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Village doesn't want to maintain its trail section

February 02, 2011 - It appears the Oxford Village Council has no interest whatsoever in going into the trail maintenance business.

"I am not in favor of our DPW going out there and maintaining the trail," said Councilman Tony Albensi.

Last week, council discussed a cost-saving proposal from Alice Young and JoAnn Van Tassel – two Orion officials who serve on the Polly Ann Trail Management Council – which called for each of the five communities that fund and govern the 14.6-mile trail to maintain their own section of it.

"I appreciate the need for the Polly Ann Trail Management Council to try to cut some costs, but not at the expense of all the communities that already pay their portion into that," Albensi said. "We should not have to have our taxpayers pay above and beyond what they're already paying towards that trail."

Addison Township has 5 miles of the trail, Oxford Township has 4 miles, Orion Township 3.4 miles, Leonard Village 1.3 miles and Oxford Village 0.90 miles.

Currently, Orion and Leonard maintain their own sections of the non-motorized trail, while Oxford Township and Village along with Addison rely on the trail manager, adopt-a-trail volunteers and court-ordered laborers to keep up their sections.

In response to Albensi's comments, village Manager Joe Young clarified that this is a "cost-cutting proposal."

"For example, we were paying a trail manager $15,000 a year," he said. "If the communities were going to take care of their own maintenance, then we'd only pay that person $5,000 a year, so our (trail) fees would be reduced . . . There would be a savings, but then we'd have to use that money to maintain the trail."

Right now, the largest line item in the PAT budget is $15,000 annually for the trail manager position.

"A large percentage of the trail manager's time is spent on maintaining the trail," the proposal stated. "If the various municipalities would assume some or all of the routine maintenance in their respective communities, the trail manager's duties could either be curtailed thereby lowering his/her annual compensation, or better utilized for grant writing and promotion of the trail."

Councilman Tom Benner suggested the trail's maintenance could done by a private contractor "at a much cheaper price."

"(The trail manager) should be managing the trail, not doing repairs, not doing maintenance on the trail," he said. "That's something that could be bid out."

"There's a lot of people that need work," Benner noted. "I think that's the way we need to go. And that would save a lot of money for the trail manager."

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