At yesterday’s Master Plan Committee meeting, held virtually via Zoom, the committee discussed the idea of establishing a trail system throughout the Old Mission Peninsula for non-motorized use such as walkers, runners and bicyclists. The trails would be similar to the TART trail system in Traverse City and throughout northern Michigan, or the paved trail at Bowers Harbor Park.
This topic was included in the Peninsula Township survey that residents filled out last year (see an overview of the results here and the full survey here). About 78 percent of respondents supported the idea of a non-motorized transportation plan on the Old Mission Peninsula.
Help Support Old Mission Gazette - Click Here
Specifics of the plan may include a trail system that connects park facilities with walking trails and bike paths; the installation of pedestrian safety features at key locations on roads, such as pavement markings, signals and signage; and the creation of dedicated pedestrian routes for students to get to and from school.
Committee member Dave Murphy said he reached out to TART executive director Julie Clark and communications and policy director Brian Beachamp, who expressed interest in working with Peninsula Township. Murphy said they know the demand for a trail system is here, and they have resources regarding planning and volunteers.
Likewise, committee member Todd Wilson spoke with someone at Norte, the bicycle organization based at the Civic Center in Traverse City, and they are supportive and happy to participate, as well.
Committee member Isaiah Wunsch noted that over the past decade, there’s been a consolidation of agricultural land holdings on the Old Mission Peninsula, and this might be a good time to look at a trail system from that standpoint.
During the public comment time, however, OMP farmer Nancy Heller expressed concerns over trespassing, as well as the fact that farmers must adhere to strict regulations regarding spraying, who is allowed in the orchard, and other issues related to GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and GHP (Good Handling Practices), as outlined on the USDA website.
There is also the matter of whether trails could be built on farmland under the protection of conservation easements.
Township Planner Randy Mielnik noted that the township would not try to push through a plan to create trails over the entire Peninsula, but would work with TART to reach a good solution to satisfy residents’ needs, as well as property values and rights. They would also work towards improvements along existing roads, such as pavement markings and signage.
Are you supportive of a non-motorized trail system on the Old Mission Peninsula? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments section below.