by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL The five- to seven-inch deluge of rain that occurred this past Memorial Day not only caused three major washouts and the closing of a two-mile section of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail (WPT), but also threatened the 24-inch Rockford sewer line that runs parallel to the trail itself within the right-of-way. On average, the sewer pipe daily carries a whopping 700,000 gallons of raw sewage on its way from Rockford to the North Kent Sewer Authority Sewage Water Treatment Plant (PARCC Side) on Coit Avenue in Grand Rapids’ northeast side. Regularly ensuing heavy rains since Memorial Day have further eroded the damaged sections of the WPT. At the same time, the underlying and adjacent soil was being further destabilized, placing additional pressure on the sewer line. With the pristine Rogue River flowing just below, one can only imagine the environmental havoc that would result from a rupture of the huge sewer pipe. Rockford City Manager Michael Young has been on top of this situation from day one. He has tasked the City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) to daily monitor the situation along with opening clogged drains and placing straw bales to inhibit further erosion. “I felt the City should not sit on its hands, but rather, be proactive from the very beginning. We could not afford to sit idly by and do nothing. It turns out we absolutely took the right actions. Without our remedial work, the heavy rains that have since followed may well have ruptured the pipeline,” said Young. All the work thus far is only temporary. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) has accepted the seriousness of the situation, but at the same time is “wringing its hands” to find a source of funding for a $60,000 engineering study and an estimated $250,000 for permanent repair. Monday, this week, we learned from Dave Heyboer, chairman of the Friends of the White Pine Trail, that a “white knight has ridden to the rescue.” The Kent County Road Commission will provide the engineering, labor and material needed to temporarily stabilize the affected area of the trail. The City of Rockford, Plainfield Township, and the Friends will reimburse the county for expenses incured. The […]
White Pine Trail
‘This will generate considerable revenue Michigan needs now’ State planners last September approved installation of an Amtrack monorail over the White Pine Trail, a project that is now open for public use. “This will generate considerable revenue Michigan needs now,” said a state spokesman during the unveiling ceremony held Thursday, April 1. Friends of the White Pine Trail opposed the project, saying that a train capable of traveling at 80 miles an hour over the serene landscape through which the trail passes will be distruptive. “We enjoy the natural aspect of the trail and hikers and bicyclists won’t enjoy the loud noise and exhaust when the train goes over,” said Mick Mosh, director of the Athletic Supporters of the White Pine Trail. Others consider the monorail a brilliant addition to the trail that will increase visits to Rockford and other communities from Comstock Park to Cadillac. When people walk, they never look up. It was just wasted space that now has a practical use,” said Cliff Hill, who, with wife Nancy, is an avid walker. The cost to ride the monorail depends on where along the trail people board. The Rockford stop, in downtown Rockford at the Prominette, is the most expensive. “You pay for value and there is no doubt rockford is the prettiest town along the 100-mile stretch,” said the Director of the White Pine Trail Monorail Authority. The monorail was installed in 110-foot segments. It was designed to be high enough that tall people can use the trail without bumping into it. The base supports are electrified to discourage graffiti or vandalism. Portions of the work were paid for with federal stimulus grants while part of the funding came from advertising on the train itself. New ads will appear monthly on the exterior of the train body. “Really it is as pretty as the woods and rivers the trail passes by, maybe even more so,” said the Director. “I think it is a beautiful addition. The smell of fumes when the train passes will only make people appreciate clean air more. That’s win-win if I ever saw it.” Each community voted separately to approve their portion of the monorail and the ticket sales income will be split accordingly. Sand Lake voted not […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL For maybe the second time in his life, Dave Heyboer, chairman of the Friends of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail (Friends), was struck speechless. It was Thursday, August 7, and Heyboer had just been presented a check for $502,240 from the Meijer Foundation to further augment a million dollars that had been previously granted some years ago. This latest donation was gifted to provide the 20% matching monies to a recently received federal grant of $2,240,000 to be used toward the final engineering and further paving of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail (FMWPT). “It was money sent from heaven,” said Heyboer. The 92-mile-long FMWPT is a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) linear park that is the jewel of the state’s Rails-to-Trails system. Traveling north to south, it connects the cities of Cadillac and Grand Rapids. Some 35 miles have already been paved and are heavily used by countless numbers of people as a recreational destination. These users are not only local residents but also Michiganders from around the state and visitors from across the nation as well. The new monies received will go toward the complete engineering of the entire unpaved portion of the FMWPT. The balance remaining will allow paving from Cadillac southward to, hopefully, LeRoy in late spring or early summer of 2010. This southward paving is a departure from the Grand Rapids northward paving that has been previously completed. By completing the engineering, further paving can move forward without delay as new monies come available. Last Friday, September 11, a ceremony was held at the FMWPT staging area in Cadillac that was attended by 150 people. Federal, state and local officials, along with area businessmen, representatives of the Michigan Snowmobile Association, and members of the Friends were present. The guest of honor was to have been Fred Meijer, who was a little “under the weather” and unable to attend. Rob VerHeulen and Mike Julien of the Meijer Foundation ably represented Fred, himself. Friends Chairman Dave Heyboer, who—along with the group he heads—has dedicated a major portion of his life toward the goal of the complete paving of the FMWPT, couldn’t be happier […]
The fourth-grade students at Rockford Public Schools’ (RPS) summer program recently took a bike ride on the White Pine Trail. Their reward was ice cream at Trailside Treats in Belmont. The summer program is held at the RPS administration building. The students go swimming, go on walking and bus field trips, participate in gym, nature, and craft classes. Another highlight of this summer was magician Maciek Biezunski, who made birds and rabbits magically appear.