The City of East Lansing is planning to apply for a pair of 2022 Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) grants aimed at funding projects to extend and improve existing portions of the Northern Tier Trail — beyond the portions being improved currently — according to a presentation from Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Wendy Wilmers Longpre at Wednesday’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission meeting.
The first grant application is to fund improvements to a 1.1-mile-long portion of the Northern Tier Trail which runs north from the East Lansing Soccer Complex to State Road.
Portions of this 1.1-mile-long section of trail would be repaved or repaired, and the whole portion would be upgraded to fix any Americans with Disabilities Act deficiencies. The estimated cost of this work, according to Wilmers Longpre’s presentation, is $400,000, and the grant application will request $300,000 to cover a majority of the costs. The remaining 25% of the project — $100,000 — would be funded by the Parks and Recreation portion of the City’s Income Tax Fund.
The second NRTF grant application is to extend the Northern Tier Trail to connect with Coolidge Road. Because parts of the proposed 1.1-mile-long extension of the trail would be in Clinton County, it’s not possible to fully (or mostly) pay for it with funds from the Ingham County Trails Millage.
Extending and building more trail is notably more expensive than repairing and improving existing trails. The estimated cost of installing approximately 4,000 feet of paved, asphalt trail in addition to approximately 450 feet of additional boardwalk and signage is $650,000.
The City is still applying for $300,000 of funding for the planned project to extend the trail, despite the greater overall cost of this project. According to Wilmers Longpre’s presentation, the remaining $350,000 of the project will be funded from the Ingham County Trails Millage ($112,700), “Contributions by Others” ($205,000), and from the City ($36,550).
Wilmers Longpre also presented the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission with a tentative schedule for the grant application process. First, there would be a public hearing in January of 2022 for residents to come and speak about the proposed projects. Then the Advisory Commission and subsequently City Council would have to approve the grant applications, which would happen in February and March of 2022, respectively, according to the timeline in Wilmers Longpre’s presentation.
Once approved by appropriate City bodies, the City would then submit the grant applications to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which operates the NRTF. The tentative schedule shared by Wilmers Longpre shows April 1, 2022, as the date for submitting the applications.
Ultimately, based on the tentative schedule, the City would know around November or December of 2022 if the grants were approved and have a project agreement in place by July 2023. The projects would then go through the standard design and bidding phases, with construction commencing sometime in the Summer of 2024.
Wilmers Longpre also shared a brief history of NRTF projects throughout the City.
This history also included an update on ongoing or recently completed projects. Bailey Park improvements have been completed, and Northern Tier Trail extensions and improvements around White Park are also complete. The pavilion and restroom renovation at Patriarche Park has been completed with the solar array installation nearing completion, and the improvements to Lake Lansing Road regarding pedestrian safety are expected in late 2022 or early 2023
Wilmers Longpre told Commissioners on Wednesday that the solar array will be able to fully power the pavilion and bathrooms.
Also included was a table showing the various projects and associated grant amounts the City has gotten from the NRTF. In total, $3,413,664 has been awarded to the City from the NRTF, and it has been matched with $1,756,329 locally, with money from the City, Ingham County, or other entities.
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