From left, Troy City Engineer Bill Huotari, Public Works Director Kurt Bovensiep, City Manager Mark Miller and project manager Ashely Levin stand at the start of the new trail Aug. 23, which opened earlier that month.

From left, Troy City Engineer Bill Huotari, Public Works Director Kurt Bovensiep, City Manager Mark Miller and project manager Ashely Levin stand at the start of the new trail Aug. 23, which opened earlier that month.

File photo by Deb Jacques

Trails and pathways plan goes forward with resident engagement

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published November 16, 2018


TROY — Aiming to continue the theme “I can’t believe I’m in Troy,” the City Council, by consensus, directed city staff to move forward on phase two of the Troy Trails and Pathways plan.

Public Works Director Kurt Bovensiep and Lauren Carlson, of Carlisle/Wortman Associates, the city’s planning consultant, shared what’s coming next for the trails with the council at the Nov. 12 meeting.

The first part of the trail — a 1.3-mile asphalt path that goes behind Zion Church, Walsh College, Oakland County Water Resources Commission property and ends up at a mid-block crossing at Wattles Road and continues north to the Troy Historic Village — opened this past summer.

In May 2017, the council unanimously approved a three-year budget that included stipends of $750,000 each year for the Troy Trails and Pathways plan.

The Troy City Council approved easements with Zion Church, Walsh College and the Oakland County Water Resources Commission in a 5-0 vote Jan. 9, 2017, for the first segment of the trails. Mayor Dane Slater and Councilman Paul McCown were absent.

The next phase of the trail is currently charted to extend north of Wattles Road through the neighborhood using city right of ways where some walkways currently exist, through Troy School District property, and proceeding north to Long Lake Road.

Bovensiep said the plan for phase three is for the trail to extend to Sylvan Glen Lake Park, off of Rochester Road.

Bovensiep said the eventual goal is to connect with the Clinton River Trail.

The city would need to purchase land at 4750 Belzair Drive, south of Long Lake Road and west of Livernois Road, to do this.

Bovensiep said that city officials have had initial talks with the landowners and conveyed that the city cannot pay over market value and that there was a chance the house would have to be removed, and he said the owners were receptive.

Troy School District Superintendent Rich Machesky said the Troy School District and Board of Education are open to opportunities to partner with the community and are interested in helping with a pathway through the city.

“It’s a pleasure for us to be a part of this project,” Carlson said.

She said that the engagement process will keep residents informed and help them “become stewards of the trail.”

She said the residents who live adjacent to the proposed trail have been notified. Residents will be invited to meetings with updated information in smaller groups.

“We want to develop partnerships with those who abut the trail,” Bovensiep said.

Plans for a nonmotorized pathway through the city stalled in 2015 when the state withdrew a $600,000 grant for a proposed trail and pathway system when residents in the Hills of Charnwood subdivision, located west of Coolidge Road and north of Square Lake Road, objected to the pathway going through their subdivision.

During citizen engagement forums held in 2015, residents of the Hills of Charnwood said they and other residents opposed designated bike lanes being marked on streets in their subdivision.

Concerns included fears of a drop in property values and increased crime.

The city then revised plans for the trail and moved forward without the grant funding.

After discussion at the council table Nov. 12, the council, by consensus, directed city staff to move forward and not pursue grant opportunities to help fund the trail.

“Engagement is critical,” said Councilwoman Ellen Hodorek. “We want residents involved up front. I hate to create another delay (waiting for the Transportation Alternatives Program grant). The pursuit of the grant really set us back.”

“I want to move forward without pursuing this (TAP) grant,” said Councilman Ed Pennington. “The existing trail we have is a hidden gem.”

“People who live next to it (the existing trail) offered to be advocates for a trail,” Bovensiep said. “We want this to be their trail.”

“This is a far stronger plan than we presented three years ago,” said Councilwoman Edna Abrahim. “I think this is much closer to what the people want.”

The next step is for Hubbell, Roth & Clark, the city’s design consultants, to  complete the design for the second phase of the trail, with bids going for construction of the trail this spring. Construction is slated to begin this summer, with restoration work to be complete in 2020.