The pathways initiative began in 2009 with a group of interested residents in the southern Genesee County area who shared a desire to have a multi-community non-motorized trail that extends from Argentine Township to the City of Fenton. Community meetings were held at Fenton Township Hall to discuss and prioritize potential areas for pathway development. Fenton Township, with the assistance from the UM-Flint Outreach Program, developed a recreation plan for the Township. At roughly the same time, Argentine Township began submitting documents to the State of Michigan seeking grants for trails.
In 2010, resolutions were adopted by Fenton Township, City of Linden, and the Genesee County Road Commission supporting the Argentine Township and Silver Lake Road trails projects. Countywide public meetings were hosted by Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission (GCMPC) in an effort to gauge consensus and prioritize the locations for trails within the County. A Community Trails Endowment Fund was established at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint (CFGF), by a local couple, with the earnings to be used for the development and maintenance of trails in southern Genesee County.
2012 saw the establishment of the Southern Lakes Pathways Steering Committee as a means to assist local governmental units with the development of five-year Parks and Recreation plans for each community, including the desire for non-motorized trails. It was determined that having concurrent and aligned five-year non-motorized master plans between Genesee County and the local communities as required by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) was critical and necessary in order to qualify for grants and funding.
Throughout 2013 and 2014, public meetings continued to be held related to trail priorities within the County, and the GCMPC conducted a preliminary analysis study to establish a prioritization trail plan, which was supported by all the southern Genesee County governmental units.
In 2015, LAFF continued to work with each community on their Parks and Recreation plans to include trails as a recreation need in each community. In 2016, LAFF began to conduct fundraisers in an effort both raise funds and increase community awareness and support for local trails. The first contract for preliminary engineering services for Phase 2 of the Silver Lake Road Trail (City of Linden, through Fenton Township, to City of Fenton) was signed with NFE Engineers, and work began.
Numerous meetings and public hearings were held with GCMPC, Genesee County Road Commission, Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission, and the local southern Genesee County governmental units to facilitate the placement of non-motorized trails. This resulted in establishing a sponsoring agency partnership for this project with the Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation Commission (SLPRC). This agency is able to work through the municipal boundaries of southern Genesee County and has been supported with collaboration from the City of Linden, Fenton Township and City of Fenton to spearhead the LAFF trail system.
Additional preliminary engineering fees for trail design were paid in 2017 for both Phase 1 of the Silver Lake Road Trail (Argentine Township to City of Linden) and Phase 2. Discussions and meetings were held with the Village of Holly, Holly Township, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) regarding the potential of a 16-mile trail system from Argentine to Holly, with the possibility of including Seven Lakes State Park in the trail.
A major milestone was achieved in 2018 when SLPRC agreed to take ownership of Phase 2 of the Silver lake Road Trail between Linden and Fenton, and the City of Fenton agreed to become the quality recipient of federal and state grants related to trail construction. In addition to matching grants for the local governmental units and SLPRC of $60,000, LAFF provided $52,800 in matching funds toward a Genesee County TAP grant of $441,500 for the construction of Phase 2 of the Trail.
The even bigger news was received when the MDNR notified Argentine Township in December 2018 that their grant of $300,000 was awarded, which completed funding for Phase 1 of the Silver Lake Road Trail. Construction of Phase 1 began in June, 2020 and is expected to be completed by fall, 2020.
Through October 2019, LAFF has raised $164,000 from citizens and local businesses, allowing the group to fund $45,032 in engineering and easement services and $77,800 in matching grants. Of the total expenditures, $34,225 were related to Phase 1 of the trail, and $88,607 applied to Phase 2.
Fundraising will continue in 2020 – 2022 to acquire enough matching dollars for federal and state grants acquired. If funding is secured, the construction of the Phase 2 Trail could begin in 2023.
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TAX-DEDUCTABLE gifts can be made to benefit the LAFF Pathway Fund through the Community Foundation of Greater Flint at www.cfgf.org and through the link below.