Friends of GB Grid promote trailway expansion



Christopher Estes, center, president and CEO of Security Credit Union, shows off the sign presented by the Friends of the Grand Blanc Grid in recognition of the credit union’s commitment to the trail system in the Grand Blanc community. Grid members who attended the presentation were, from left, Joanie Towarnicky, Jeff Rains, Lori Estes, Susan Nitzschke, Randy Nitzschke and Monica Shapiro. Photo by Lania Rocha

Christopher Estes, center, president and CEO of Security Credit Union, shows off the sign presented by the Friends of the Grand Blanc Grid in recognition of the credit union’s commitment to the trail system in the Grand Blanc community. Grid members who attended the presentation were, from left, Joanie Towarnicky, Jeff Rains, Lori Estes, Susan Nitzschke, Randy Nitzschke and Monica Shapiro. Photo by Lania Rocha

GRAND BLANC — The Friends of the Grand Blanc Grid have a vision of a system of trails connecting neighborhoods, businesses, recreational areas and people throughout their community and, ultimately, the state.

“We’re working to promote non-motorized paths throughout Grand Blanc, with emphasis on connecting to the Iron Belle Trail (a 2,000-mile trail from Detroit to Ironwood),” said Grid member Jeff Rains. “We’re trying to promote other options than just jumping in your car.”

Already blessed with an extensive array of trails, Grand Blanc officials and trail advocates continue to pursue unique opportunities for expanding and connecting the pathways.

“It’s been a challenge,” said Rains.

“Grand Blanc is just not connected all that well,” said Lori Estes, Grid member.

“The Grand Blanc community has a lot of trails, they just need to be linked up better,” said Rains.

Though Grid member and local officials have had much success securing grants to cover construction costs, they now have come up with another avenue for encouraging support for the trails.

Thursday, Nov. 19, they presented Security Credit Union with a sign recognizing the company for its contribution to their vision. The credit union received the first in a series of signs that Grid members will distribute to businesses that install trails or provide funding for the trail network.

“We encourage families to build positive, healthy habits that set them up for a future of not just financial success, but also an active lifestyle,” said Christopher Estes, credit union president and CEO.

The trail at Security’s administrative building, 5255 Security Park Blvd., was includes three paths of about two total miles, which wind through a natural, rolling terrain with benches, a large pond and native wildflowers.

Rains described the trail as a “substantial” contribution to the system.

“The sign project is designed to acknowledge any entity that takes the time and resources to consider non-motorized trails when building roads or putting in new businesses, or any type of construction that could improve the connectivity,” he said.

“There are a lot of the pieces of the puzzle that we don’t have. Hopefully, this will be a springboard for even bigger projects. There is a lot of potential to encourage construction of trails.”

An extensive and well-connected trail network offers many advantages, Rains noted. Benefits include reducing consumption of fossil fuels, promoting healthy choices, bringing families and neighbors together, giving residents a greater sense of community and providing people with a safe alternative for getting to restaurants, shopping hubs and work.

“It’s a slower pace,” Lori Estes said. “It just kind of gets you out of the rat race, gets you outside.”

“It’s a nicer way to travel,” said Rains. “Trails give people a place to walk, get exercise, get fresh air – all the things we encourage people to do but haven’t built the infrastructure to allow them to do it.”

Grid members officially formed in 2019 when they launched a letter-writing campaign to help Grand Blanc Township secure a grant for installing trails along the Dort Highway extension.

The organization is always looking for more volunteers. For information, check out their Facebook page, The Grand Blanc Grid, at www.facebook.com/GrandBlancGrid.