Trail town meeting scheduled for tonight.

November 5, 2015

LUDINGTON — A meeting will be held at Ludington City Hall tonight, Thursday November 5, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room to reveal the design of two potential Lake Michigan Water Trail Stop locations in the City of Ludington. The plan will also look at the connectivity of those trails and surrounding trails to the Downtown Core.

Supported in part by a service grant known as the Great Lakes Trail Towns Planning Initiative, local officials and trail advocates from Ludington are working together to determine ways to better leverage and maximize the economic potential of trail-based tourism within the community, a strategy often referred to as “Trail Towns.” Funding for the project is being provided through Michigan’s Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP), which aims to build on and expand the recommendations of the Lake Michigan Water Trail Plan completed in 2014. The planning initiative is being led by the Land Information Access Association (LIAA), a nonprofit service organization based in Traverse City, along with Access Recreation Group, LLC.

Harry Burkholder, Director of Planning for LIAA, said the Trail Towns service grant is designed to make communities more aware of the economic opportunities that come from trail-based tourism.

“Trails were once considered to be undesirable and unnecessary infrastructure in most communities,” Burkholder said. “People worried that trails would bring crime and unwanted activity into their neighborhoods. However, in reality the opposite happens. Trails not only increase nearby property values, they contribute to sense of place and offer new economic development potential.”

As an example, Burkholder cited a recent study by the Michigan Department of Transportation that values the total economic impact of bicycle tourism throughout Michigan at $668 million annually.

“The initiative will identify specific projects that address accessibility and we anticipate these will be included in local recreation plans and therefore be eligible for grant funding,” Burkholder said.

The “Trail Town” concept was originally developed by the Allegheny Trail Alliance, a coalition of seven trail organizations along the Great Allegheny Passage, a 150-mile multiuse trail running through Pennsylvania and Maryland. The basic Trail Town concept is simple: ensure that communities along the trail are better able to maximize the economic potential of trail-based tourism. Over the last several years, as the full economic potential of linking trails, recreation, tourism and business development has become better known, the Trail Town concept has caught on. Over a dozen communities throughout in Michigan have already created formal Trail Town plans and programs.

Under the Great Lakes Trail Towns Planning Initiative, Ludington is participating along with nine other communities along the Lake Michigan coastline.

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