Swartz Creek receives preliminary approval for Trust Fund trail grant

SWARTZ CREEK — The City of Swartz Creek has cleared a major hurdle in its quest for funding to extend the Genesee Valley Trail to Elms Park.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Board of Trustees has recommended the state legislature approve the city’s application for a $300,000 grant. The city now awaits final approval out of Lansing, which is expected to take four to six months.

The city applied for the Trust Fund grant three times before being recommended for approval.

City officials and consultants began planning the extension in 2017.

The Michigan Department of Transportation awarded Swartz Creek a $600,000 Transportation Alternative Program grant in 2018, but the release of the funds is contingent upon the city coming up with 35 percent of the estimated $1 million project cost.

The Trust Fund grant is critical in the city’s effort to fund the 35 percent share.

A small segment of the trail will be built as part of the projects being funded by a Safe Routes to School grant that will pay for the installation of pathways near Elms Road and Syring Elementary schools, and Swartz Creek Middle School.

The Safe Routes portion will go on the north side of Bristol Road in the vicinity of Heritage Village.

City officials continue to work to obtain easements across four properties on Miller Road. City Manager Adam Zettel has said he is optimistic about negotiations with three of the property owners, but he’s unsure of which way General Motors is leaning at this time.

Initially, the automaker seemed agreeable. In later talks, however, company representatives proposed an alternate route that would take the trail across Miller Road twice, and Bristol Road once, all at mid-block.

City officials are pursuing appraisals on the four properties in the event they have to initiate condemnation proceedings to acquire the easements.

The proposed extension will pick up the existing Genesee Valley Trail at Norko Drive in Flint Township, and continue the pathway south on Dye Road, west on Miller and Bristol roads, then south to Elms Park.

The 4.5-mile Genesee Valley Trail begins at the Chevy Commons Trail, a 1-mile pathway that crosses the Flint River and connects to the Flint River Trail, a 17-mile trail that runs along the river to Mott Lake.

Future extensions within the City of Swartz Creek could take the trail south from Elms Park to the creek, then west along the creek to Abrams Park and the west side of town.

It ultimately could become part of the state’s Iron Belle Trail, a 2,000-plus-mile network of hiking and biking routes that will extend from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula.