Friends of River Country Trails

A proposed trail from the Three Rivers Health campus to Meyer Broadway Park was in the spotlight during an hour-long ‘informational public hearing’ conducted by the River Country Recreational Authority (RCRA) Board Monday evening, July 15th, at the Fabius Township Hall.

Plans for such a motorized pathway have taken shape over the last several years through work by the Pathway Project Steering Committee, now known as the Friends of River Country Trails, and the RCRA, which was established through joint action by the Fabius Township Board and Three Rivers City Commission in December of 2011.

The proposed route for the trail that has emerged from the planning process begins near HealthTRAC on the Three Rivers Health campus, goes north along the east side of South Health Parkway to Millard Street, west along the south side of Millard Street to US-131, and – after crossing US-131 – travels west along the south side of Millard Road to Roberts Road and into the north end of Meyer Broadway Park.  With the exception of the portion along South Health Parkway, which involves an easement from the hospital, the route utilizes public street/road right-of-way.

In advance of the July 15th informational public hearing, property owners along Millard were advised by letter regarding the meeting, a notice about the meeting was published in the newspaper and posted, and the session was publicized through a news release from the RCRA that also reported on donations by Mostrom & Associates and Three Rivers Health in support of the trail efforts.  Specifically, Three Rivers Health authorized an easement to allow a paved asphalt trail from HealthTRAC to Millard Street.  Mostrom & Associates made the donation possible and supported the efforts with a professional survey to write an easement.

At the outset of the July 15th RCRA meeting, Lindsay Oswald of St. Joseph County presented a brief history of trail planning efforts and explained why the Millard Road right-of-way was the chosen route.  During the meeting/hearing, several Millard Road property owners shared their objections to the proposed trail while several others posed questions.  Others in the audience expressed support for the trail and the benefits they said would come from its development.

After reviewing and discussing the July 15th hearing, the RCRA Board – during its regular monthly meeting on July 18th – voted to have Board Chairman John Pence submit letters to the Three Rivers Area Community Foundation (TRACF) and the St. Joseph County Road Commission, stating that the RCRA is ready for Phase I of a proposal from the Road Commission for Design and Construction Engineering (Topographic Survey and Preliminary Engineering) to be completed by the Road Commission and requesting that the TRACF earmark funds – not to exceed $15,000 – to cover these expenses.  The group discussed potential grant funding to support the project and Pence explained the 18-month timeline for pursuing and receiving a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grant.  The group also discussed budgets of municipalities and pursuing funds from them to be used for the community match amount for the grant.

Regular monthly meetings of the River Country Recreational Authority Board are held on the third Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Conference Room at Three Rivers City Hall, 333 West Michigan Avenue in Three Rivers.

Regular monthly meetings of the Friends of River Country Trails are held on the fourth Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. in the lower level of the Fabius Township Hall, 13108 Broadway Road west of Three Rivers.

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