Acme-to-Elk Rapids trail proponents discuss possible routes (copy)

Sherry Balcom walks on the TART Trail in early March near her home on 4 Mile Road in East Bay Township.

ACME — Another key link in the chain of area recreational trails will be built in Acme after a major state grant was recently awarded.

Acme Township this month received a $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to help pay for the first segment of the Acme-to-Charlevoix Trail. Nearly 2 miles of trail will be built in 2021 to connect an existing TART Trail to both the Meijer store and Acme Bayside Park.

“I hope it’s a great thing for Acme,” said Doug White, township supervisor.

The grant to Acme Township was among $25.6 million awarded statewide this year from the trust fund for recreational development and land acquisition projects. It’s a restricted account to support land conservation and outdoor recreation financed by interest earned on money from the development of publicly owned minerals such as oil and natural gas.

White said he wasn’t sure the Acme project would score well enough to receive trust fund dollars in the recent grant cycle.

“It’s quite a thing to get it,” he said. “It was a bit of a surprise.”

Casey Ressl, TART’s development director, said the existing recreational trail that extends northeast from 4 Mile Road, along 5 Mile Road and ends at Bunker Hill Road, will now be further extended through the woods to Mount Hope Road. From there the trail will branch off eastward toward Meijer and also north to M-72, then west down the hill to the shoreline park.

Part of the trail will be separated pathway and some will be alongside roadways, Ressl said.

It amounts to 1.8 miles of new recreational trail, she said.

In addition to the state trust fund grant, the project received $300,000 from the Iron Belle Trail fund, $75,000 from Acme Township coffers and $10,000 from local nonprofit Cherry Capital Cycling Club. Some additional grant money awarded to TART Trails from both the state and Rotary Charities of Traverse City are expected to be used, as well.

Ressl said the total expected construction costs of the project are $1 million, with about $65,000 in engineering and design expenses.

Bill Danly, president of the cycling club, said this first segment of the Acme-to-Charlevoix Trail is an important one.

“It’s a huge connector trail to Charlevoix and from there the trail goes all the way up to the (Mackinac) Bridge,” he said.

The Little Traverse Wheelway connects Charlevoix to Petoskey and Harbor Springs, with a spur from Petoskey to the North Western State Trail that runs through Alanson and Pellston to Mackinaw City.

The Traverse City-based cycling club raises money through organized group cycling rides and have donated more than $300,000 over the last 20 years toward trails, bike infrastructure projects and youth cycling, Danly said.

He said the club has more than 400 members and surveys show these are the ventures they want to support.

“Trails are the No. 1 thing they like. They like riding on trails,” Danly said.

The Iron Belle Trail is the longest designated state trail in the country that connects Belle Isle Park in Detroit and Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula. The project in Acme is considered a key connector for the Iron Belle Trail, Ressl said.

More information about the project is available at www.traversetrails.org/acme-connector-trail online.

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