In November 2014, Ingham County voters approved a new millage to support the development of a county-wide regional trails and parks system. The .5 mill levy will raise an estimated $3.5 million per year over the next six years. The first step the County took upon its passage was to solicit for a consulting team to help lay the groundwork for how to allocate the funds and what projects to invest in to maximize the impact of this new revenue. In July 2015, Ingham County hired the consulting team of The Mannik & Smith Group along with Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance to do this project. Click HERE
for the final report.
The primary goal of Mannik & Smith's project was to assist the Ingham County Trails and Parks Task Force in determining the expenditure of millage dollars for their trails and parks. The proposed work effort involved development of a County Regional Trails and Parks Plan, including construction and maintenance costs, as well as recommendations for priority projects and best practices.
In brief, the project highlights consisted of:
• Detailed inventory and assessment of existing regional non-motorized trails, including both land and water trails, bridges, and park facilities.
• Analysis of local conditions, destinations, and evaluation of corridors and routes presenting trail opportunities.
• Determination of planned and desired trails.
• Engaging the Task Force, community stakeholders, and the public for preferred routes and corridor prioritization.
• Formulation of a 6-year capital improvement plan for trails and county parks.
• Development of a model for project ranking and selection.
• Recommendations for millage fund category spending allocations for trails and county parks.
Current information and planning documents for both existing and proposed trails have been reviewed. A detailed inventory and assessment of the existing trails, bridges, County parks, and water trails is included in the final report. The outcome of this first phase is to establish existing conditions and current plans. A base Regional Trails and Parks map was used as a basis for public and stakeholder input.
Public input was sought at workshops taking place around the County to receive suggestions and information from participants. The workshops focused on refining the future trail network. An online survey was administered that focused on the proposed trail network and gaps to identify opinions on priorities for trail construction.
The Ingham County Regional Trails and Parks Plan document was created based on this information. The report detailed projected/estimated costs for trail construction, maintenance, or repair, and identify a method for project ranking and selection. Maximizing millage dollars by leveraging available grant funds was an important consideration of this process. This last phase included recommendations for spending percentages of the identified millage categories. The Regional Trails and Parks Plan document was developed through a series of drafts, incorporating the comments of the Task Force. The final draft with supporting graphics was presented to the Task Force for final approval and adoption.
TASK FORCE MEETINGS
The Ingham County Regional Parks and Trails Task Force met several times to deliberate on the network plan.
INVENTORY AND ANALYSIS - WHAT DO WE HAVE?
Current and past planning documents, recreation, and demographic information relevant to the project were collected in order to begin the project. Trail plans included in parks and recreation, transportation, and comprehensive master plans in all of the county's local municipalities which would indicate local trails (land and water), connection priorities, and planned projects were part of the collection. Also included in the review were existing and proposed trails in the adjacent six counties which offer interconnectivity and trail opportunities.
Another step was the collection of information from other regional trail efforts and millage-funded networks from across the country to help with a strategy for percentage allocations and ranking criteria. View the information collected thus far here. Ultimately, the goal is to develop an equitable and transparent model for the evaluation and ranking of projects and the expenditure of the Ingham County trails and parks millage funds.
PUBLIC INPUT PROCESS
Six public workshops were held in October-November of 2015 in the following areas of the county: South Lansing/Delhi Township, Meridian Township, East Lansing, North Lansing, Mason/Leslie/Dansville/Stockbridge, and Williamston/Webberville.
The detailed inventory informed the development of an ArcGIS map showing potential regional trail connections, and served as a primary tool to gather public input.
Participants at the public input session held at Delhi Township on October 8, 2015
Meridian Township public workshop attendees share their ideas on trail and park system improvements
Participants at the North Lansing public input session on November 12, 2015
An online survey was made available to those who were not able to make the sessions. Highlights from the public input sessions and the online survey results were presented to the task force at their December 10, 2015 meeting. A more complete analysis of the public input is available in the final report.
In addition, a focus group meeting with the Ingham County Road Commission, all area parks and rec officials, the Ingham County Health Department, Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, and the Michigan Department of Transportation generated additional input. Click here for the meeting minutes.