Iconic Saugatuck Palette Sign In Path Of Proposed Blue Star TrailThe palette sign at the northwest corner of Blue Star Highway and the Lake Street is a well-known symbol of the Saugatuck area because it speaks to the area’s artistic tradition and Saugatuck officials want to make sure it remains intact, particularly as it relates to the ongoing Blue Star Trail.
The emblematic sign was a subset of the Saugatuck City Council discussion on Monday dealing with tree trimming and removal. The council approved contracting with F.A. Bartlett Tree Experts in the amount of $10,040 for the ordinary and annual service.
Many trees in the area have particularly been affected by the emerald ash borer.
While several trees around the city will be attended to, city officials said they want to hold off on tree maintenance on and around the palette sign because they first want to have discussions with the Friends of the Blue Star Trail.
That pending discussion will center on the area where the palette now stands as it currently appears to be in the way of the proposed route of the trail, running along the west side of the Blue Star Highway as it crosses the bridge. “The palette will not be touched,” Saugatuck City Council Member Bill Hess, then mayor, said a few weeks back about the city’s position.
In preliminary discussions about how to address the issue, even the idea of constructing a bridge so as not to disrupt the sign has surfaced as one possible solution.
The Blue Star Trail is an ambitious project involving the construction and development of a 20-mile non-motorized, off-road pathway meant to run from South Haven and connect all the way to south of Holland.
So far, three miles of the 20 have been completed. In fact, 1.7 miles of the completed pathway is in the City of Douglas, near Zing Eat Drink restaurant, and north towards the Blue Star Highway bridge.
Friends of the Blue Star Trail President Jeanne Van Zoeren says the palette will not be disturbed. However, she said the conversation about how to proceed with the trail’s route still needs to happen.
“It would be presumptuous of me to say anything about it at this point. Nevertheless, I will say it has to be a decision that considers the perspective of Saugatuck Township and Saugatuck city,” said Van Zoeren.
“We need to have the discussion about the issue in conjunction with the engineers and in conjunction with MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation), who has the final say-so because they are the largest funder of the project,” she added.
Of the tree maintenance itself, Saugatuck Mayor Chris Peterson explained, “The trees are prioritized,” referring to the combined effort of the Saugatuck Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Saugatuck Tree Board throughout the year.
Tree management is an ongoing requirement, and only those trees considered top priority - those that present an evident danger to electrical wires and the public - are addressed and hinges on the budgetary capacity of the respective year in which it occurs.