Blue Water Trail project close to big funding boost
ARENAC COUNTY — Pending a final OK from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Arenac County Parks and Recreation Board is expecting another $60,000 grant to help with the Blue Water Trail project.
The project engineer, Don Hamilton of Lapham Associates, said the monies would be used to help cover a portion of the $44,000 needed to match a Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, as well as make improvements to the county’s Point Au Gres Park. Hamilton said the park would be renovated to be a primary staging area along the Blue Water Trail.
“It’s going to provide monies for the development of the Point Au Gres Park and to further the Blue Water Trail plan in Saginaw Bay,” he said.
According to Hamilton, the parks board applied for the $60,000 grant from Saginaw Bay Coastal Zone Management in November 2013. He said approval is close to a done deal.
“It’s pretty much a given that if they approve it and send it to NOAA, it will be approved,” he said. “Sometimes there are amendments — small things that are required by the federal government.”
After the grant is received, Hamilton said the project will require approximately $10,000 to $14,000 in additional funds to be finished. He said he and the county parks board have been seeking out additional grants and local contributions to help cover the additional funds needed.
The $60,000 grant was approved in late June, and the county received a letter notifying it that the grant was approved July 2, according to Hamilton. This is the third grant the county has received for the Blue Water Trail and Point Au Gres developments, Hamilton said.
In July 2013, the county received a $51,250 grant from Coastal Zone Management, which required a 50 percent match. Hamilton said those funds have been used for initial Blue Water Trail work. The DNR Trust Fund grant, which was received early in 2014, is going toward the actual improvements at the park, Hamilton said.
“We’re doing engineering for the Point Au Gres Park right now,” he said. “We completed an archaeological study, which was a requirement. That should be finished this week. We’ve done topographical stuff and engineering, so we’re marching along.”
The Point Au Gres Park developments and the Blue Water Trail project are not technically one and the same, but Hamilton said the DNR grant was successful due to it aiding in making the park a staging site for the water trail.
“The reason we got that was because we were making the park into a primary staging site in the Blue Water Trail,” he said. “That’s what they’re funding.”
“Those improvements will make that park so much more viable for the Blue Water Trail, but the Coastal Zone doesn’t pay for that kind of stuff,” Hamilton continued.
Construction at the park may begin this fall and be wrapped up in the spring of next year, or may not start until next spring, Hamilton said. Each step of the project, from the plans to the bids, has to be approved by the DNR, which amounts to close to two months of just waiting on approvals, he said.
Hamilton said several improvements will be made to the park as part of the project.
“There is going to be a kiosk,” he said. “There’s going to be signage and improved parking. There’s going to be a new well, a new bathhouse. There’s going to be electricity into some of the cabins in some of the campsites. The dock is going to be extended.”
Some of the access points along the water trail could be improved, and signage to help kayakers or canoers on the trail know where they are at is also part of the plan, Hamilton said.
“We want to do informational or promotional plans for it so we can let people know it’s there,” he said.
A map showing the 21 access points for the Blue Water Trail in Arenac County can be found at www.arenaccountygov.com/blue