More Questions Arise Over Proposed Blue Star Highway Trail Project
Saugatuck City officials now seem to be changing their minds regarding the question of what governing body - the City of Saugatuck or the Allegan County Road Commission - would ultimately be responsible for the maintenance and future upkeep for any possible construction or rehab of a non-motorized pathway on North Street running east and west, between Blue Star Highway and Holland Street.
The issue arose in relation to the proposed Blue Star Highway Trail, as one of the options that The Friends of the Blue Star Trail have presented to Saugatuck city leaders in terms of a route along North Street.
One current stumbling block, however, is Saugatuck officials favor moving that proposed route further north to Clearbrook Drive.
Both design options—North Street or Clearbrook Drive - run west from Blue Star Highway and both connect to Holland Street where the trail pathway exists going north.
Saugatuck Township officials say North Street is under the jurisdiction of the City of Saugatuck and that it ought take responsibility for any trail construction - including its future maintenance - that takes place there.
This issue comes at the same time that Saugatuck’s engineer (Paul Galdes) previously advised city officials that the north half of North Street is under the control of the Allegan County Road Commission.
That is a claim unequivocally repudiated by Allegan County Road Commission Managing Director Larry Brown, who says Saugatuck has been receiving Act 51 MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) dollars, and as such, has jurisdiction and responsibility of the entire public right-of-way, including any future trail that would be built there.
However, in a more recent development, Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier said, “We are looking into that issue and we’ve been in contact with Lansing (MDOT).”
City officials have always conceded the city gets Act 51 funding, but the question of the responsibility of having complete jurisdiction of the entire road, particularly a future non-motorized pathway, was a different matter.
“The state is saying the city would be responsible (for a the entire road and the pathway),” said Harrier.
City officials at this point have rejected some of the proposed route designs presented to them by the Friends of the Blue Star Trail and also indicated that while the not-for-profit organization will provide all the funding for the construction of the trail, there is no assured mechanism in place for the future maintenance costs that would be needed for the project.
Friends of the Blue Star Trail are expected to modify some designs and come before city officials again for approval.