ALPENA -A $245,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Development Grant request by the city that would have been used toward the construction of a trailhead in Alpena has been denied.
Even though the city plans to apply again for next year's funds, if approved the project will get under way no earlier the 2014. The facility, which would have been built on Woodward Avenue, would have provided a place for snowmobilers, horseback riders, bicyclists and hikers a resting place, as well as a place to park their vehicles and trailers.
Interim City Manager Greg Sundin said a large amount of work and planning was put into the $300,000 project, and funding for the city's match had been lined up via help from local partnerships. He said he was surprised the request was denied, but he is ready to move forward and is hopeful the needed money can be acquired next year.
"We are going to reapply and I'm staying positive and I think we will have a good chance of getting it," Sundin said. "We came up with a wide variety of funding sources for the local match. We had in-kind services from the city, funding from the Community Foundation, the Besser Foundation and from youth and recreation funds which would have made up almost the entire $105,000 match."
Now that the grant request has been denied, Sundin said he has been in talks with the organizations that had pledged money to the trailhead to see if the funds can be set aside until it is known if the money is approved in 2013.
"I really thought with all of the collaboration we had this would pretty much be a sure thing, or should I say we were cautiously optimistic," Sundin said. "I have already talked to the Community Foundation and they said they will hold the funds for a year and I talked to the Besser Foundation and requested the same and it is going to be discussed at its next meeting. I also intend to ask the youth and recreation committee if they can reserve the funds and from what I understand there is precedent for that."
Sundin said the planned trailhead would have restrooms, a pavilion, a large parking lot, and an area to park bikes, tie up horses, and load snowmobiles. He said the city believes having a trailhead will help bring money into the city during all times of the year.
"Out trail system is a very valuable asset," Sundin said. "With the new snowmobile route we have people that can get into the city and with the new branch down Oldfield Street they can pretty much get to the downtown. I think the opportunity is there for people to visit Alpena and our local businesses."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.