BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
TRAVERSE CITY — Boardman Lake Trail enthusiasts will gain another four blocks of trail next summer along with a return loop after the city commission approved three related measures.
The commission voted Monday to accept a grant, a new trail easement along the old railroad corridor, and an alternative route along the lake shore at the Lake Ridge Condominiums near 14th Street. City officials hope to have the $420,000 project completed by next summer. They will then begin looking at how to fund the final leg to the southern tip of Boardman Lake, connecting with the East Boardman Lake Trail and completing a five-mile long trail loop.
"At that point I think it will be one of the most significant parks we have," said Russ Soyring, city planner. "The eastern side is already heavily used."
The new loop will run along the western lake shore from the current trail end near 10th Street to Lake Ridge Condominiums near 14th Street. It will then turn west before looping back north along an old rail road line. The Michigan Department of Transportation granted the city a 55-foot wide right-of way for a new corridor trail.
The project hit a snag when Lake Ridge Condominium owners objected to the trail running between the lake and the condominium buildings.
"I've been opposed to the trail from the time we bought the condo ... eight years ago," said resident Nancy Larson. "We do want a trail, it would be great to have a trail, but back by the railroad."
Some city commissioners considered dropping the waterfront trail, but others noted the city paid $160,000 for its 15-foot easement before condo construction began.
"We'd be throwing our investment away," said Commissioner Jim Carruthers.
The city's easement follows the shoreline along the lake shore then makes a 90-degree turn when it hits the south property line to go west up a 25-foot high incline away from the lake.
The new alignment pulls the trail away from the water for about a third of the property to gently curve west until it rejoins the easement running along the south property line. Avoiding the hill and the 90 degree turn makes for a safer trail, City Manager Ben Bifoss said.
The condominium owners voted 37 to 3 to accept the new alignment to avoid losing control of the lake front, said association president Mike Tousley.
Larson said they were told accept the alternative or face an elevated boardwalk all along the water's edge.
"We weren't given the option of not having the trail at all," she said.