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Who are Friends of the Blue Star Trail?

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...

Construction Begins!

 

 

 

 

At long last our trailway has started! We are building off road trail on the west side of Blue Star Highway. Government applications are being filed this spring for more construction. (Photo courtesy of Scott Sullivan, and the Commercial Record)

Great Outdoors, on Wheels

 

 

 

 

A series on the benefits of outdoors biking, written for the Allegan  County Community Foundation Spotlight newsletter, by Mike McCarthy. Please share with your friends and neighbors. Read more...

Friends of the Blue Star Trail

Attack Editorial Ugly, Inaccurate

[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:

  • Ganges and Casco townships have been very supportive of our initiative. Both are somewhat rural townships with limited resources.  Consequently, the Allegan County Board of Commissioners has offered to cautiously assume ownership as various sections are constructed. So yes, there will be a trailway going south of Saugatuck and Douglas.
  • The Friends did not “run into financial and political roadblocks.” We changed the trajectory from north to south because we were able to secure right of way certification in Saugatuck Township faster and easier that constructing from south (Casco Township) to north.
  • Neither Douglas nor Saugatuck Township trailways have been developed haphazardly. In fact, the trailway has been in the planning works in both communities for more than a decade.
  • Discussions have taken place with the City of Saugatuck for several months. Council members have been methodically considering options and priorities and we have supplied documents upon request. We have provided, for example, preliminary drawings at their request. A final decision about the merits of a particular construction option cannot be done with preliminary drawings. More detail is needed to confidently render a yes or no decision.
  • Final drawings are several steps beyond where we are in our talks with City of Saugatuck officials, so no final decision can be made on the construction merits at this time.
  • The economic impact of trailways has been thoroughly researched at the local and state levels. The State of Michigan has a statewide trail strategic development plan for these trailways because it was conclusively demonstrated that they indeed do make a significant economic impact. State dollars are available and the Governor has asked for more funding to move the trailway effort forward as fast as possible. 
  • Allegan County’s research was completed by their parks department in 2014. All 25 government officials contacted in those townships, cities and counties were wholeheartedly in support of trailways.

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

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6th Annual Lakeshore Harvest Ride

This year's event will again start at Schultz Park in Douglas, with an additional starting point at the Kal-Haven Trail Head in South Haven. Mark your calendars for September 9, 2017. For online registration, waver forms, maps and directions to the starting points check with  Lakeshore Harvest Ride - 2017.

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Volunteers Needed

Volunteers are the key to our success! The time and effort volunteers spend with our events and many projects helps to make the
Blue Star Trail a reality. If you are interested in being a volunteer send us an email to let us know.

Early Registration

Register before August 1, 2016 for the Lakeshore Harvest Ride and receive a $15 discount. Pass the word to your bike club and local bike store. Join the fun by registering online.
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Fundraising Activities

Fundraising is an integral part of our mission. Through fundraising events, membership drives and generous donations we will acquire the money to construct the Blue Star Trail.
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