March 19, 2014 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
A connection to the Polly Ann Trail is the number one most requested improvement surveyed by the Paint Creek Trailways Commission, which could become every trail-lovers reality by summer 2015.
Local municipalities, including the Village of Lake Orion, Orion Township, Lake Orion DDA, Paint Creek Trailways Commission, Polly Ann Trail Commission Oxford, Village of Oxford, Oxford Township and Oakland County, are meeting March 26 to discuss building a possible link between the Polly Ann and Paint Creek Trails.
Stakeholders will be discussing the development of a trail way along the east side of M-24 from the Hills of Oxford to Indian Lake Rd. in Orion Township. One possible link involves an old railroad right-of-way in Oxford, which runs behind Rzadko's 10 Minute Oil Change, the Golden Nugget, the Oxford Legion and Harvest Time Farm Market. Stakeholders will be discussing other alternative links as well, including acquiring land from the Oxford Hills Golf Course to build such a path.
Utilizing the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) competitive grant program, local municipalities would only have to fund 20 percent of the project, and the grant would forefront the rest, Oxford Township Treasurer Joseph Ferrari said. The grant application is due April 21, motivating stakeholders to meet March 26.
"We definitely want to make this work with the property owners," Ferrari said. "Our goal is to levy some support from everybody because it would be that much stronger applying together," he said.
If an easement of the old railway path could be purchased, currently owned by Bill Rzadko, a trail could be built down the east side of M-24 potentially linking the Hills of Oxford to Indian Lake Rd. in Orion Township behind the Orion Kroger, thus connecting the Polly Ann and Paint Creek trails.
The Polly Ann Trail starts at a trailhead on Joslyn Rd. south of Waldon under the power lines, and extends to Indianwood Rd. From Indianwood, the Polly Ann connects to Drahner Rd., and from Drahner to Burdick St. in downtown Oxford.
The Paint Creek Trail starts in downtown Lake Orion on Atwater St. behind Applebee's, and heads south along the Paint Creek River and Orion Rd. into Oakland Township and Rochester.
The possible connection would involve the Polly Ann trail portion on Drahner, the future trail along the east side of M-24, and the linkup to the Paint Creek Trail in downtown Lake Orion which becomes accessible with the new trail extending behind the Orion Kroger.
The closest connection between the Polly Ann and Paint Creek is an unofficial "un-signed" temporary route using main streets, side streets, and pedestrian pathways, which would need a small pathway to be constructed in order to make it official. The unofficial route involves Indianwood Rd., Joslyn, Heights, Pine Tree, Clarkston, Lapeer and Golden Gate that links to the Paint Creek Trail.
"I think there is room for multiple connections with the Polly Ann Trail for multiple purposes," Kristen Myers, Trail Manager of the Paint Creek Trailways Commission, said. Myers is looking forward to the stakeholders meeting March 26. "I think it is important when planning and developing these connections that we make them all encompassing as much as possible," she said.
For example, connect them to schools, connect them to business districts, connect them to community pathway systems, and/or connect them with parks, she said.
Ferrari said talks of linking the two trails have been happening for several years, and that he would like to see a ten-foot-wide asphalt pathway with two-foot shoulders on either side.
"At the meeting we can discuss whatever we want, but the main thing is I want those players there," Ferrari said.
More information will be available after the stakeholders meet in Oxford Township March 26.
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