, 2022-08-09 23:01:07,
More public recreational trails could soon be coming – including for mountain bikers – to the Grand Traverse Commons Natural Area and Hickory Hills as Garfield Township and the City of Traverse City go through separate but similar planning processes to identify new amenities and future improvements at both parks.
Garfield Township staff and consulting group Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. (ECT) will host a public open house today (Wednesday) from 3pm to 6pm at Kirkbride Hall at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons to gather feedback on new park design concepts for the Grand Traverse Commons Natural Area. The event follows an initial open house in May that drew approximately 75 attendees, who were shown current conditions at the 180-acre property and asked to weigh in on different trail concepts. Another 79 people took an online survey to share feedback on park improvements. Consultants took input from the open house and survey to create several conceptual designs, which they’ll unveil today with the goal of working toward a final design plan that will be adopted by Garfield Township officials this fall and guide improvement work at the park.
According to a staff report, most respondents so far have advocated for having separated trails at the Commons, with dedicated paths for bikers and hikers/walkers as well as ADA-accessible and family-friendly trails (pictured, rendering). “There needs to be a variety of trails and trail types,” says Township Planning Director John Sych. “We need to be thinking of the elderly and the young, who may not have the skill levels to navigate the hills but still want to access the property.”
Other feedback calls for installing signage to highlight historical and natural elements on the property – like its connection to the former Traverse City State Hospital and wetlands and artesian springs on-site – and expanding areas for scenic viewing, outdoor education, and wellness walks. Water filling stations, restrooms, benches, increased bird habitat, natural playscapes for children, and improved boardwalks and wayfinding signage (including information on trail difficulty and routes) were also suggested. Addressing graffiti, off-leash dogs, and “social” trails – informal trails created by users that can be unsafe and lead to property erosion and environmental damage – were identified as park needs. Moving the park’s trailhead off North Long Lake Road to a safer, more accessible…
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