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New safety path master plan focuses on M-24, Seymour Lake Rd.

October 20, 2010 - Completing the safety path system along W. Drahner Rd. was a significant accomplishment for Oxford Township, one that was much appreciated by residents who walk and bike.

But officials aren't resting on their laurels.

They've come up with a whole new master plan for the township's safety path system, one that includes new paths to be constructed and new priorities.

Approved by the township board last week, the plan shows 10 paths totalling 35,950 feet.

There's no funding in place to build any of these paths at this point, however, officials are hopeful they can obtain some money from outside sources.

"From what we hear, there may be more (federal) stimulus funds available. We're not sure," said township Treasurer Joe Ferrari, who chairs the safety path committee. "We'd be looking at something like that or some other type of a grant funding source."

The new safety path along the north side of W. Drahner Rd. between Pontiac Rd. and M-24 was built using $447,968 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Building safety paths along M-24 figures prominently into the new master plan.

"The majority of the (safety path) committee felt it was better off connecting M-24 because a lot of people are coming to town that way," Ferrari said.

Priority 1 is constructing a 1,500-foot path along the west side of M-24 from Market St. to north of Harriet St.

That fits with Priority 3 which involves creating a 4,200-foot path along the west side of M-24 from Stony Lake Park to Market St.

A little further down on the list at Priority 6, the plan calls for two 3,100-foot paths, one on each side of M-24, connecting the Oxford Village limits to Drahner Rd.

Another focus of the plan is Seymour Lake Rd. where paths are proposed from Dunlap Rd. to Waterstone Dr. (3,300 feet) and from Dunlap Rd. to Seymour Lake Park (6,600 feet). They are priorities 4 and 7 respectively.

Other priorities include:

n Number Two North side of E. Drahner Rd. from M-24 to Glaspie St. (1,000 feet)

n Number Five Lakeville Rd. from Grampian Dr. to the Lake Villa Mobile Home Community (850 feet)

n Number Eight Old railroad right-of-way from Indian Lake Rd. to Drahner Rd. (5,100 feet)

n Number Nine Ray Rd./Oxford Rd. from M-24 to Oxford Rd. (5,600 feet)

n Number Ten Dunlap Rd. from Seymour Lake Rd. to the township hall (1,600 feet).

Ferrari explained Priorities 1-3 provide the best "interconnectivity" with existing paths and sidewalks.

He noted that Priority 2 was deemed important because a path there would connect the Oxford Lakes subdivision to the entire Drahner Rd. safety path system.

Right now, the township is planning to have its engineering firm, Giffels-Webster, submit a proposal for Priorities 1-3 that involves acquiring easements, right-of-way staking and proposed costs for lineal footage to be developed.

The biggest delay in the W. Drahner Rd. paths was acquiring the easements from private property owners.

"We want to get those in our pocket, basically," Ferrari said. "If you don't have the easements in place, it makes the process longer. We've learned to at least get the easements in place, so if a funding source becomes available, you can really start working on the engineering and construction plans."

Acquiring easements along a road can be difficult.

"You're dealing with so many different property owners," Ferrari explained. "Some folks are happy to give it to you for a dollar. Some folks say, 'I would like to have you relocate my sprinkler system.' Some folks say, 'No, you have to buy the easement.' Everybody's a different situation."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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