A Jackson County plan is underway to establish additional trails and to connect existing ones. The Region 2 Jackson City-County Non-Motorized Plan is being managed by an Ann Arbor firm . The Greenway Collaborative has held several public meetings, including a second one Tuesday in Columbia Township.
Three members of the Clark Lake Spirit Trail committee and about 18 other interested parties were present to hear about current plans and to give input. For example, proposed trails could link Clark Lake’s Spirit Trail to other areas. In this map, solid lines indicate current trails and dotted lines show proposed new sections.
The section of the Spirit Trail that parallels Hyde Road was formerly a railroad bed. The Spirit Trail’s Ann Swain pointed out that the using the old railroad right-of-way north and south of that section is problematic. Those areas are now under private ownership, and that’s unlikely to change. Terry Mahr suggested using the abandoned Meridian Road that parallels US 127 instead. In the photo below, the proposed railroad bed route is being pointed out, with a new line drawn for a possible Meridian Road corridor.
One attendee asked who will pay for these projects. The answer is—your tax-dollars, and they would come from various governmental sources. Each source, federal, state, or local, provides grants using different objectives. Federal Department of Transportation grants aim to improve transportation. State natural resources grants are more about recreational purposes. The Jackson Department of Transportation is required to allocate 1% of its funds to non-motorized purposes. These grants can “interact” with each other, creating a complex interlocking support web.
What sets the Clark Lake Spirit Trail apart was how it came about. The concept was inspired locally by people like Tom Collins. It was planned and built through donations and fund raisers. It is maintained and improved by Clark Lake volunteers. No tax dollars support it. The Spirit Trail celebrates the character of the Clark Lake community.