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City receives $100,000 grant

By Judy Reed

Christmas came early for Cedar Springs this year, in the form of a $100,000 grant for the proposed White Pine Trail staging area.

The city learned last week that they had received the matching grant from the Michigan Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, who recently awarded over $35.7 million to 67 recreation projects and land acquisitions across the state.

“They called and told us we had received the grant, but they could only give us $100,000, and we would either have to increase our match or lower the scope of the project,” explained Cedar Springs City Manager Christine Burns. “They asked if we still wanted it if it was only $100,000,” the city had asked for $197,900.

They were happy to accept the grant, and will eliminate the bathroom building to meet costs. The city’s part of the match is $47,100.

Dave Heyboer, of Friends of the White Pine Trail, was happy to hear the news about the grant, noting it brings people (and money) into the area. “It’s a very positive thing to build the staging area,” remarked Heyboer. “It makes a nice place to park to get people to a certain spot, and now you also have a sign that tells where things are. Cedar will be a nice spot. It’s a huge thing.” He also added that the Friends of the White Pine Trail would soon be putting a picnic bench on the trail near 16 Mile Road. “You’d be surprised how many people use the trail in the winter time,” he said.

Howard City Village Manager Mark Rambo agreed with Heyboer about the staging area making an impact on the city. He said that after they put in the staging area and paved the trail, they saw an immediate impact. “It was amazing to see how many people used it. More people are walking downtown, and we’ve seen a noticeable amount of people dropping off bikes. There are also more people eating at the restaurants and stopping into the stores,” he said.

Rambo noted that they also moved their farmer’s market into the staging area. “People can ride the trail directly to it,” he said. Another thing that he said had helped bring people in was that they added free Wi-Fi over the six city blocks. “We wanted to make Howard City a destination, and by adding the two together (staging area and Wi-Fi), it’s had a big impact on bringing people into the village.”

The proposed staging area in Cedar Springs will be at the end of Maple Street just west of Second Street, at the White Pine Trail. It will include porous asphalt, picnic tables, benches, trash cans, a split rail fence, site lighting, sidewalks and landscaping.

The property will also include a gazebo or some type of structure dedicated to Clara Gust, 88. Her son Gary, wife Lolly, and sister Joanne, donated the property to build the staging area. There currently is an old railroad freight depot on the site that is slated to be torn down by the city. They will consider bids on that at tonight’s (Thursday’s) city council meeting.

The MNRTF board considered 175 applications for the grants, totaling $108.3 million, which were competitively evaluated based on scoring criteria developed by the board. Cedar Springs was one of only 67 that made the cut. Governor Jennifer Granholm will now forward these recommended awards to the legislature for appropriation of funds. “Our natural resources help set Michigan apart from other states, and the work of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has made it possible to protect and acquire some of our most scenic lands and unique natural areas,” she said.

The city hopes to have the staging area completed next summer.

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