Governor Rick Snyder signed the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriations bill today — St. Patrick’s Day — which spreads a bit-o-green around the state.
Included in the bill is $2 million in land acquisition funding to buy property within Wayne County in order to complete gaps in the cross-state Iron Belle Trail.
One of those gaps is the Beltline Greenway in Detroit. This conceptual path was part of the GREEN non-motorized planning for the lower eastside. The community recognized it as a priority connection.
The greenway would follow a former railroad called the Beltline that connected the Uniroyal Site on the RiverWalk and headed north to the Gleaner’s Community Food Bank and beyond. It actually goes under E. Jefferson Avenue. The city rebuilt this bridge last year in anticipation of the greenway.
For the Iron Belle Trail, the routing goes from the RiverWalk to Kercheval, shown as the purple line on the map graphic.
Conrail no longer owns this railroad property. The DEGC owns the property south of Jefferson while it’s in private hands to the north. With this funding, the DNR will have conversations with these private property owners about purchasing land to create the trail.
Of course additional funding is needed to design, build, and endow a maintenance/operations fund, but this is a major step forward.
Belle Isle Grant
The DNR is also eligible for Trust Fund grants and received $300,000 for these improvements at Belle Isle:
Development to improve recreation attractions at Belle Isle. The proposed project will provide supporting site amenities to canoe and kayak launches which will improve public access to the Detroit River and Lake Muskoday. These access sites will provide personal watercraft access to the Detroit River and the inland waterway system on Belle Isle. Scope items to support these access sites will include accessible pedestrian routes, picnic nodes, parking lot improvements, and a restroom building.
City of Detroit Park Grants
The City of Detroit will receive two $300,000 grants for the following.
Coleman Young Playground Improvements
Development to upgrade the tennis and basketball courts and baseball diamond, add a practice soccer field, enhance the walking path with wayfinding signage, add a children’s play area designed for children 2‐5 years of age with a sensory panel, and to beautify the area with tree planting and additional landscaping.
Dorais Playfield Improvements
Development to improve Dorais Playfield by renovating it into an area with year‐round attractions. In winter, recreation will include a sledding hill, cross‐country skiing, and snow shoeing, while during the warmer months the area will offer recreation such as cross‐country running, hiking trail, and biking trail.
Dorais has some notoriety for having an old velodrome, a concrete bicycle racing track. We brought Dale Hughes, son-in-law of the velodrome’s champion Mike Walden, to inspect the old velodrome. The city was curious if this grant could fund its rehabilitation, but unfortunately it would have been less expensive to just build a new one.