SMART program would link trails across state

Published 10:28 am Friday, July 10, 2009


Niles Daily Star

CASSOPOLIS – The Cass County Parks and Recreation Commission Thursday heard from program coordinator Amy Druskovich who described the SMART program – the Southwest Michigan Alliance for Recreational Trails.
The organization is mapping trails with a goal to linking them together such as to the Kal-Haven trail in South Haven. It’s goal is to hopefully link a trail across the state.
She said at a meeting she attended, the county was well represented, including with a couple of bicycle clubs. The next SMART meeting will be hosted in Kalamazoo Oct. 25 to 28.
Druskovich noted that SMART will hold an open house in Cass County in August for public input, with the date still to be set.
She added, Dr. T. K. Lawless Park east of Vandalia is well known in the state.
The future of small parks such as in Porter Township are not known, but may not be around forever.
These small parks which are maintained by the Cass County Parks Department, are an expense. Thursday night during a meeting of the Cass County Parks and Recreation Commission, the matter surfaced. Board Chairperson Judy Olson said the small parks in Porter Township are being mowed by a hired contractor, but the parks are owned by the township and the parks department has no authority over the parks.
Board member LeRoy Krempec said there are lots of parks that are of no value to the parks board.
“We should tell the township they are on their own. Maybe we should look into abandonment on these.” He suggested a committee check them out.
Olson said there are three other small parcels, one that is on Diamond Lake Island. These are being looked at, but the time and money should go into major parks, she added.
Krempec also questioned the progress of a rail-to-trail project in Cass County from Decatur Road to Vandalia over the old Airline Railroad bed.
Druskovich said nothing has been done on it as contacts with landowners have not been made. Krempec said stimulus money should be checked out with the emphasis on going green and making nature trails.
The parks department will host a booth at the Cass County Fair Aug. 3 to 8.
Eagle Scouts and families met with Parks Director Scott Wyman in June about building benches at Lawless and East Harmon Parks.
The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13 at the Cass County Road Commission at 340 N. O’Keefe St., Cassopolis.