Township seeks Iron Belle Trail input

By Susan Bromley
Staff Writer
Brandon Twp.- Do you want an Iron Belle Trail connection in the township?
Officials want to know, via email, the answer to that question. They also want your name, complete address and only persons over age 18 to respond. One answer per household please and send your support or opposition to
“The trail subcommittee would like the community to voice their opinion on whether or not they are in favor of an Iron Belle Trail segment through Brandon Township,” said Township Supervisor Kathy Thurman on Thursday morning, the day after the trail subcommittee met. She acknowledged querying strictly by email response was not very scientific and opens the committee up to a deluge of emails, but said that was the consensus request. Opinions on routes are not sought, just a simple yes or no to whether a trail is wanted.
The trail subcommittee consists of Thurman, and board trustees Scott Broughton and Kris Kordella, as well as residents and volunteers Dwight Woodbridge, Paul Barber, Jennifer Bickel, and Candice Hill. The subcommittee was convened last month to begin answering researching the answers to numerous questions surrounding a proposed township connection to the Iron Belle Trail, a state project which seeks to establish two separate continuous trails, one for biking and one for hiking, from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the U.P. The routes were carefully chosen to utilize existing trails in the state to which new trails could connect and be the safest for trail users and the environment and least expensive for communities. The biking trail is proposed to traverse 791 miles, includes the Polly Ann Trail in Oxford and Orion, and would include at least seven miles of trail in Brandon.
Last year, Brandon Township officials conducted a trail survey after using DNR grant funds to determine four potential routes in the community— Route A, which is 7.6 miles from Baldwin to Sherwood to Sashabaw to Hummer Lake to Mill Street; Route B, which is Seymour Lake to the ITC corridor to Granger to Hadley to Hummer Lake to Mill for 9.7 miles and costs $7,918,510; Route C, a 7.7 mile route utilizing the ITC corridor, with an estimated cost of $4,968,900; and Route D, 8 miles from Baldwin to Granger to Hadley to Hummer Lake to Mill Street with an estimated cost of $8,127,205. The most popular route on the survey, which had a total of 558 respondents, was Route C, the safest and least expensive, which received 40 percent support on the survey.
However, the board removed Route C from consideration after passing a resolution drafted and brought by Broughton, who lives along the proposed route. Routes B and D would also adjoin his property, but Broughton has not voiced formal objection to these routes.
Broughton was joined by Clerk Candee Allen, Treasurer Terri Darnall, and Trustee Bob Marshall in supporting the resolution against Route C. Thurman and Trustees Dana DePalma and Kordella voted no on removing the route earlier this year, but since then, residents have been packing township board meetings, requesting other routes be removed or voicing their support for any trail connection. Monday night, there was again both support and opposition to the Iron Belle Trail voiced by residents.
At the Aug. 7 meeting, the township board voted 4-2 against a motion to have Hubbell Roth and Clark study a potential trail route from Seymour Lake Road to M-15. The study would have been done at a cost not to exceed $1,500.
“I don’t want to spend $1,500 if we’re not going to get the answers we want,” said DePalma, who was joined by Darnall, Kordella and Marshall in voting no to the motion. Allen was absent.
Thurman and Broughton voted in favor of the study, which was requested by Woodbridge, trail subcommittee project manager.
Thurman said the feeling of the board is that a “ballpark” figure can be reached by determining the number of miles on that route and averaging cost estimates already received on other trail routes.
State officials have made clear they would like to know by October whether the township plans on going forward with an Iron Belle Trail connection, regardless of which route it would take through this community.
Email responses on whether residents want the trail must be sent by Sept. 12. Residents without internet access can fill out a form at the supervisor or treasurer’s office, or call 248-627-4918 or 248-627-2853.
Prior survey results will not be counted.
“Some of the members of the committee feel the previous survey was flawed because it was done over the internet and it is difficult to know how accurate it was,” said Thurman. “Other members thought they were good surveys. We’re trying to get everyone’s opinion.”

3 Responses to "Township seeks Iron Belle Trail input"

  1. Susan Barber   August 12, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    When answering the survey, I hope that residents will consider the cost of the trail. The above estimates are obviously flawed. Kristen Wiltfang, Oakland County Senior Planner of Economic Development & Community Affairs, stated in one of the subcommittee meetings that it would cost $600 per linear foot which equates to $3.2 million per mile to build boardwalks over wetlands. On Route A there are 4.3 miles of wetlands. It would cost $13.7 million just for the boardwalks! The estimate for Route A, which was omitted in the article, is $5.9 million. This should concern every resident since we will ultimately be footing the bill.

    I also hope that residents will consider that this trail could impact their personal property as it could require taking of land outside of the 33 foot right of way. There are obstructions in the right of way such as gas lines, utility poles, etc. that will force the trail outside of the right of way and onto personal property.

    • Paul Fisher   August 13, 2017 at 3:12 pm

      I am voting no for this trail. I am against this trail. It is a waist of our money when we need more money for the schools now.

  2. Gail Ward   August 15, 2017 at 1:58 am

    We need a trail in Ortonville, .
    It would be nice to walk, jog, or bike ride without having to go a distance to do so. Almost every town, small or big have a nice trail, but not Ortonville..It would be great if they finished a walk way on M15 from the high school to Glass Road, .seeing kids walking or riding bikes on M15 is so dangerous. My vote is YES for the trails


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