Friends of the Blue Star Trail is an all volunteer organization located in Casco Township, Allegan County, Michigan. Its purpose is to assist area governmental units, the county parks department and the county road commission in the development and promotion of a proposed 20 mile recreation pathway. Read more...
[Letter to the Editor, as it appears in The Commercial Record, April 27, 2017]
I read with dismay the editorial apparently written by Michael Gallagher in the April 13 edition of the Local Observer. I naively expected that a professional journalist would make certain his information was correct.
Not only was his piece “Why Saugatuck Township & Douglas Taxpayers Are Being Taken Down the Blue Star Trail to Nowhere & Why It’s Time to Wake Up, Ask Questions & Demand Answers” full of inaccuracies, he lowered himself to make ugly personal attacks on local officials who are supporting our trailway initiative. This is neither constructive nor becoming for a person of his stature.
So, let’s start with the facts. Having been affiliated with this project since its inception in 2008, I am more than qualified to clarify the confusion Mr. Gallagher has created />/>with his illogical arguments and senseless attacks on the organization I represent.
First, let’s clarify that we are not talking about a bike trail. This is a linear park being constructed on Blue Star Highway. It provides an opportunity to walk, run, cross country ski, roller blade and enjoy this beautiful area that attracts thousands of tourists each year.
Moreover, based upon Mr. Gallagher’s logic there should be no parks in the area. How silly given that the primary industry in the area is tourism! It is beyond ridiculous to discredit the Friends of the Blue Star Trail when our 100-plus-member group is willing to steward this initiative and raise funds to make it happen.
The Friends have pledged to pay for trail construction, associated engineering fees, easement costs and future maintenance expenses going forward, unless a particular municipality elects to fund those ongoing expenses themselves. There is and never has been any suggestion that any millage would be required for maintenance.
To date our organization had raised more than $500,000 in private donations and has been granted, via the Allegan County Road Commission, another $345,000 in federal dollars to date. We expect our fundraising successes to continue as we plan and build trailway to and from Saugatuck to downtown South Haven over the ensuing years.
So, to counter Mr. Gallagher’s statements, this may well be the least-costly park for taxpayers to build and maintain going forward.
Now for corrections to the misleading information provided to area readers:
As I have stated many times The Blue Star Trail is meant to be an enduring gift to the lakeshore community. It’s a legacy for our children and grandchildren to be cherished. To make it adversarial is a monstrous injustice to the 530 individual/household donors, 50 corporate sponsors, 100-plus volunteers and over 1,000 supporters who support this monumental effort.
Jeanne Van Zoeren, Board President, Friends of the Blue Star Trail