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Safety path extension planned for township's north side

November 24, 2010 - By Laura Colvin

Review editor

Everyone in the township pays into the safety path fund and it's time more residents had easy access to its paved trails.

That was the word from Orion Township Trustee Neal Porter recently as the township's board of trustees voted unanimously to begin work on a new project near Baldwin and Indianwood Road.

"We've spent very little money on (safety path projects) in the north end of the township," said Porter. "We've held onto that money so long and had so little done out there. Everyone is taxed for the safety path fund and its time these residents get some use from it."

Allan Feys, township operations director, presented the board with recommendations from the Safety Path Advisory Committee.

"We are simply talking about a new path starting at Baldwin Road at Klais, up to the roundabout then east on Indianwood to connect with a path west of the Polly Ann Trail," he explained.

The project will complete a northwest and a western loop of the Safety Path network with a total cost is estimated at $1.2 million.

"That's a big, big path for us," said Supervisor Matthew Gibb, noting the new project is about equal in length to the section paved across Clarkston Road between Joslyn and Baldwin Road "It's arguably one of the longest stretches we've done at any one time."

Gibb said the project "might be a little more challenging because of some of the wet areas, but ultimately it would result in a "beautiful trail rounding out that north corner."

The board also discussed a potential Safety Path project on Indianwood from Joslyn Fernhurst.

It wasn't the first time trustees discussed the importance of making improvements in the area.

"I'm disappointed there seems to be a communication problem," said Trustee JoAnn Van Tassel. "Members of this board spent time indicating capital improvement projects they'd like to see."

One project all members seemed to agree on, she said, was a safety path on Indianwood from Joslyn to Fernhurst -- but it appeared board wishes were being ignored.

"It seems like everyone's operating in a vacuum. Each little group does their own little thing and no one talks to anyone else. It's very frustrating. I'm the one who spends the time tabulating all this stuff. If we're not going to pay any attention to it than why bother doing it?"

Van Tassel reminded the board of a fact no one's forgotten: The U.S. Senior Men's Open is coming to Orion Township in 2012.

"What's being proposed here has absolutely no impact on that whatsoever," Van Tassel said, noting the event will put Orion in the midst of a media frenzy. "It will be on worldwide television and I can assure you, we will have worldwide media."

But Feys said the committee had indeed been working closely with the Aldridge family, who own and operate Indianwood Golf and Country Club, where the event will take place.

"It's not as if the committee ignores the wishes of this board," Feys said. "We are an advisory committee and do what is advised by the board."

The Fernhurst to Indianwood stretch was considered, he continued, but the committee thought it was important to maintain some funds for matching purposes in the event future grants opportunities arose.

But Porter said it wasn't a factor to worry about.

"If a nice sized grant became available, I think the board would go along with borrowing money from the water and sewer fund (for matching)," he said.

For now, the board approve an expenditure of up to $76,000 for OHM, its engineering firm, to begin planning for the new project near Baldwin and Indianwood Road.

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