By ZEINAB NAJM
TRENTON — The Trenton Trail Town could soon see new additions and improvements depending on securing funding for proposed projects.
Councilwoman Wendy Pate provided an update on the Trail Town initiative during a March 22 study session beginning with changes to the advisory committee.
She said retired Parks and Recreation Director Joanne Gonyea will be taking a step back as head of the committee. Pate and committee member Chris Sorensen will co-chair the committee until a transition to new leadership is done.
“In our last couple of meetings (we’ve) been working on — we do have a master plan and it’s separated into several sections and we have been meeting goals and checking off the list,” Pate said. “We’re kind of going through that right now, doing a status update, where are we and what are we working on?”
The trail begins at Wayne County Elizabeth Park and ends at the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge for a distance of 10 to 20 miles.
Pate also said there has been so much behind the scenes and it’s the time to put it out there to be more visible, adding goals are to revitalize the downtown, to connect the city’s natural resources, and make Trenton a unique location destination tourism spot.
“The quality of life tied to living next to a trail, and the property values those homes that are next to trail systems are, I think — I can’t remember the percentage, but I’m going to say at least 20 percent higher than if you did not live along a trail route,” she said.
Heading into the upcoming budget season, Pate told the council it was a good idea to start talking about funding sources for some of the things the committee is working on.
Under economic vitality, the committee is looking to do a survey relating to businesses and the benefit of being part of the trail system.
The survey would have to be done by a professional service or other outside person and company, so Pate said the money would have to come from somewhere.
“We’ve had tons of donations,” she said. “I don’t think we spent a lot getting done what we’ve done, we’ve reached out to pro bono people to help us along the way.”
Another aspect the committee is working on is organization, which includes a complete streets ordinance which will be tied into the city’s planning commission work.
“One of the really important things is that we’ve also partnered with all of the kind of things going on Downriver — such as the Downriver Link Greenways, Destination Downriver and the Southern Wayne Region Chamber of Commerce,” Pate said. “Downriver Link Greenways got a grant to hire an engineering company to do a crosswalk study for us and they’ve also targeted some improvements that we need to make.”
Some of the improvements discussed are creating mid-block crossings downtown with better pedestrian traffic and sharrows painted on streets to alert people of biking in the area.
Those same projects aim to help Trenton’s Trail Town get approved as a Pure Michigan designated Trail Town. The city applied and was denied, since then some of improvements have been made, but the city still needs items to work on including a place or places for people using the trail to stay.
Pate said she is in the middle of working on a mural project with the hopes of having a cohesive plan of artwork throughout downtown.
“I am also working on the train bridge at King and West Jefferson — the underpass is where we wanted two murals to go on each side of the street because that is the entrance into our downtown at the north end,” she said.
Funding for the mural could be provided through a grant or by using the city’s aesthetics fund.
“I wanted to present the idea that we could start investing in some visible things so people know that we’ve been working on this, to give our businesses some hope, to attract people to our area for tourism and to host events around trail town,” Pate said.
For more information on the Trail Town initiative, click here.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])