Grant sought for bicycle, pedestrian trail to connect Elizabeth Park with Wildlife Refuge

Photo by Sue Suchyta The proposed trail would connect the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center with Elizabeth Park following Jefferson Avenue, shown northbound approaching Van Horn Road.

Photo by Sue Suchyta
The proposed trail would connect the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center with Elizabeth Park following Jefferson Avenue, shown northbound approaching Van Horn Road.

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON – An asphalt trail connecting Elizabeth Park to the International Wildlife Refuge could become a reality this summer if a grant application is approved.

Parks and Recreation Director Joann Gonyea said she received approval from the City Council to apply for a grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan for the Ralph Wilson Jr. Legacy Fund, to complete the West Jefferson Avenue greenway trail, which would improve walkability and bikeability between the park and refuge.

The request for $48,800, if awarded, would be leveraged with funding from the Federal Lands Access Program and match dollars from the Fish and Wildlife Federation and the DTE Foundation.

Photo by Sue Suchyta The proposed trail would connect the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, shown in a rendering, with Elizabeth Park.

Photo by Sue Suchyta
The proposed trail would connect the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, shown in a rendering, with Elizabeth Park.

“It’s a good fit for us,” Gonyea said. “It will link with pathways that are either proposed or already in place, and will supply a safe, separate connection for the bicyclist and pedestrian.”

She said the project is important to the Downriver communities, which need non-motorized access points to the Detroit River for recreation purposes.

“This project will serve as a catalyst for community growth and economic development, as well as improving the quality of life for area residents,” Gonyea said.

The pathway project will serve the estimated 200,000 people expected to visit the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge in the first two years, following its anticipated opening in the fall.

The pathway, separate from the roadway, improves safety for walkers and bicyclists, many of whom will be drawn to the urban wildlife sanctuary.

Gonyea said the pathway will provide an economic benefit by bringing more visitors to the area when it connects with the other pathways stretching for 60 miles throughout southeast Michigan.