Sterling Heights to add nature trail behind Freedom Hill County Park – Macomb Daily

Sterling Heights will receive a late Christmas giveaway in the form of a 1.35 mile long recreational trail behind Freedom Hill County Park in exchange for $ 17,000 upkeep per year – and not everyone is happy with it .

The 10-foot-wide trail, which will be used for hiking and biking, will cost approximately $ 315,000 to convert an existing access road to a nature trail from Schoenherr to 16 Mile Routes. Municipal authorities estimate that the annual cost of the Parks and Recreation Department to maintain it will be $ 17,000.

“It’s a good deal at twice the price,” said City Councilor Michael Radtke.

Work will begin in the spring and end in late fall. The public will have access to the trail in the spring of 2023, said Brent Bashaw, the municipal engineer.

The project is an offshoot of the work the Red Run Inter-County Drainage District is doing to stabilize the banks of the Red Run Drain near Freedom Hill and the Mark Sawyers Family Park. As part of this work, contractors will construct a gravel access road on the north side of the drain to allow movement of construction equipment and materials.

Rather than removing the access road after the project was completed, the Macomb County Roads Department offered to pay the cost of converting the access road to a non-motorized trail, open to the public.

Macomb County Commissioner Joseph Romano (MACOMB DAILY FILE PHOTO)

The new trail will provide a connection to the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA) Trail on the south side of the Metro Parkway through the north side of the Red Run Drain and Sterling Relief Drain, and terminate at the existing sidewalk on the east side. by Schoenherr.

City engineers say there are no single-family residences adjoining the proposed trail route on the
north side of the drain and the 20 houses on the south side of the drain are over 250 feet away, so they do not anticipate noise complaints. There are no plans to extend the trail west of Schoenherr.

Others, like Joe Romano, former city councilor and current member of the Macomb County Board of Commissioners, questioned the wisdom of adding a trail behind Freedom Hill. He raised concerns about parking spaces, litter, noise, and people trying to use ATVs and four-wheelers on the path.

“It’s a good idea, but do we really need it,” he said.

Councilor Maria Schmidt pointed out that the county wanted $ 17,000 per year in maintenance of Sterling Heights. “It’s not a gift,” she said. “It’s a gift with strings.”

Schmidt voted alone against the maintenance contract, which went 6-1.

Others say these problems can be treated.

Bollards will be used to prevent motor vehicles from accessing the trail, there is parking available near the site that can accommodate the number of pedestrians and cyclists, recreation workers can pick up trash and police can deal with it. any other troublemaker, officials said. .

Mayor Michael Taylor said it would add another recreational feature to Sterling Heights, which he says is an important part of increasing property values ​​and building a sense of community.

“Look at how good our parks service has done,” said Mayor Michael Taylor. (MACOMB DAILY FILE PHOTO)

“The Parks and Recreation Department has transformed this city over the past five years,” said the mayor. “The pros outweigh the cons so much, it’s not even close.”

In addition, the Macomb County Executive Office received a $ 300,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for plantings aimed at increasing habitat complexity, connecting habitat corridors, benefit native pollinators, control invasive species, reduce erosion and increase riparian canopy in drain banks. .

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