Pittsfield Township officials revise Lohr-Textile Greenway plans
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
After months of revisions and meetings, Pittsfield Township officials say they're ready to move forward on the Lohr-Textile Greenway, a 10-foot wide asphalt trail.
Township Supervisor Mandy Grewal said a timeline still hasn't been established for when construction will begin, but she hopes to hear back on easement requests within several weeks.
The pedestrian pathway will run south down the east side of Lohr Road from Ellsworth to Textile roads. It will then continue on the south side of Textile, roughly a half mile to Teft Park.
Grewal said that segment is the first phase in establishing the greenway and is part of a larger effort to develop an easily accessible network of non-motorized vehicle and pedestrian pathways linking Saline, Pittsfield Township and Ann Arbor.
The project is funded by $300,000 in grant money from the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Connecting Communities, awarded to the township last fall. The township board approved the pathway in April and spent the summer soliciting input from community members.
“This is the first part of our overall vision in the township to create a greenway network,” Grewal said. “This fits into that larger vision and the reason my administration is so committed is to create a deliberate sense of community and preserve the quality of life.”
Grewal said the township has made several adjustments to the greenway’s preliminary engineering plan as a result of public input. It has also sent out easement requests to five homes in spots where the pathway may need to run closer to the houses than in the public right-of-way.
Residents received easement request for various reasons. Officials were concerned the pathway might damage drainage systems in some spots. In other instances, there were no public right-of-ways in place to begin with, Grewal said.
The most vocal opponent of the project has been Nicole Bergen, who lives at 1621 West Textile Road. Bergen has five large oak trees in her front yard she estimated at more than 100 years old. Those trees stand in the greenway’s path and would have come down under the original plans.
Bergen said in August that she had met with township officials on several occasions but wasn’t satisfied with any of the alternative options discussed. Most recently, the township offered to run the pathway between the trees and her home, while cutting the path’s width in half on Bergen's property.
Bergen declined to comment when asked this month about her thoughts on the latest offer. In August, she said her dining room windows are frequently open in the summer because they don’t have air conditioning in the room, and bringing the path closer to the home amounted to “an invasion of privacy”.
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
Bergen added she spoke with an arborist who verbally said he doubted the trees would survive from root damage caused by a path so wide.
Grewal said she has heard overwhelming support for the project, but wants to continue working with those residents who will be impacted on a daily basis by the path. She said most who voiced concerns about the planned route have been willing to work with the township to address those concerns.
“This is a project that we want to do to improve the quality of life in the township,” Grewal said. “But it has to be done in partnership with residents, and I remain steadfast and committed to working with them as partners.”
Among other input, Grewal said residents were concerned by a lack of pedestrian crossings allowing them to access the pathway from across busy roads, while other homeowners wanted the pathway pushed further away from their homes.
Grewal said the township included more pedestrian crossings and moved the path as far toward the road as safely possible. In accordance with federal regulations, the pathway also includes a two-foot shoulder on each side. The township has made smaller adjustments based on individual meetings with residents, Grewal said.
Once the township board approves the final plans, they will be submitted the Washtenaw County Road Commission and Water Resources Commission for approval.