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Crockery Twp. asks Spring Lake for bike path loan

Becky Vargo • Feb 15, 2017 at 4:00 PM

SPRING LAKE — Spring Lake Village Council reacted positively Monday night when Crockery Township Supervisor Leon Stille asked for a $600,000 loan.

Stille said the money would be used to help fund the next two phases of the North Bank Trail, which runs between 130th Avenue and M-231 and from the other side of M-231 to 112th Avenue.

The rest of the money for the $1.636 million project will come from a Michigan Department of Transportation Alternatives Program grant.

A contract will have to be created and reviewed before Village Council votes on it in open session. That could take a couple of months, according to Village Manager Chris Burns.

Stille expects work to be done on the trail in 2018, if the loan can be negotiated. 

The loan would be paid back using funds from a bike path millage approved by Crockery Township residents this past fall. Stille said the millage will collect approximately $75,000 a year and will have had a couple of years to build before any payments are needed to be made to the village. He emphasized that the township would pay back more than that, if possible, to pay down the loan.

Stille said he reached out to the village because a loan from the State Infrastructure Bank is only available to governmental units, which receive Public Act 51 funding. Crockery Township is not eligible for the program, Stille said, but could get the money with the help of a partner that is eligible — and that’s where the village comes into the picture.

One portion of the proposed 2018 project was completed in 2016 — the section going under the M-231 overpass.

Ottawa County also completed a non-motorized pathway from the M-231 Bridge and up the east side of the highway to Leonard Road.

Stille said the county plans to do the next segment — a connection to Nunica — this year. That will help connect the North Bank Trail to the south side of the Grand River.

The North Bank Trail will eventually connect to the Musketawa Trail. Plans are for trails to eventually connect Grand Rapids to the Lakeshore.

The existing North Bank Trail goes from 130th Avenue east to Spring Lake’s Linear Park Trail.

Stille said that Crockery Township is still working to obtain the rest of the easements needed for the 2018 work. He is also working with property owners on routes east of Nunica to obtain future easements. If one of those easements is obtained, Stille said they could save $600,000 in costs by avoiding the construction of a boardwalk across a wetland area.

“People have been very receptive to it,” Stille said about the trail. “We’re very excited about it. We think it adds a lot to Crockery Township.”

He also noted that residents in subdivisions along the trail use it to ride into Spring Lake to go to stores and restaurants.

During Monday’s Village Council work session, Councilman Joel TePastte questioned how the debt would affect the village and its possible need for loans.

Village Clerk/Treasurer Marv Hinga, who also works for Crockery Township one day a week, said the loan would put the village’s total debt at about $1.4 million, far below the $13 million level that would be a concern.

Village President Pro-Tem Mark Powers wondered what would happen if Crockery Township went bankrupt. Stille told the Village Council that the township has a fund balance of more than $1 million and he didn’t foresee any problems.

Powers asked that clarification of how the funds would be repaid to the village be put into the contract.

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