Trail’s first phase to be dedicated Monday

Leona Baumgart's children won't let her ride her bike on the road, so she pedals hundreds of miles each year around the mobile home park where she lives. All that will change Monday when the new North Bank Trail officially opens - and with it, 82-year-old Baumgart's freedom. "I can't wait to ride to Orchard Market,' she said. "If I run out of any little thing, I'm going down there.'
Marie Havenga
Oct 8, 2011

The Forest Lake Estates resident plans to attend Monday’s 5:30 p.m. North Bank Trail ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Orchard Market parking lot. She’ll be joined by local municipal leaders and the Spring Lake High School marching band.

The public is invited to the dedication and ensuing community walk/ride on the 3.3-mile asphalt path that stretches from Fruitport Road in Spring Lake Township west to 130th Avenue in Crockery Township.

“I’m ready to go on it,” Baumgart said.

Baumgart rides a recumbent bike following two hip surgeries. On recumbents, riders pedal from a reclined position, which helps reduce joint and bone stress. She purchased the recumbent bike in 2007. That year, she clocked 750 miles around the Forest Lake Estates mobile home park.

“I’ve been waiting for this day,” Baumgart said of the new trail’s opening. “The path is smooth and great. I can’t wait.”

The $800,000 first phase stretch was constructed with a $390,000 Michigan Department of Transportation grant, a $231,000 Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, local and regional contributions, and community and business donations.

“Some rail trails are straight and flat,” Spring Lake Township Community Development Director Lucas Hill said. “Some of the turns and bends in this bike path add some nice flavor. Because it meanders a bit, it makes it more interesting. We’re getting overwhelming positive feedback. A lot of people are really loving it.”

Phase 2 of the path, which likely will be built within five years, will span 4 miles in Crockery Township — from 130th Avenue to 96th Avenue east of Nunica. The trail will eventually hook into the Musketawa Trail and other regional paths stretching east to Grand Rapids.

Hill said donations are being sought for Phase 2, which requires a 25-percent local match to be eligible for grant consideration.

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