Dowagiac approves grant applications for Elks Trail improvements

Published 12:51 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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DOWAGIAC — The City of Dowagiac has moved one step closer toward the realization of an outdoors project that has long been in the works.

The Dowagiac City Council approved the applications for two Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grants to improve the Elks Trails during its Monday meeting. This project would run a trail through an easement in the Elks Golf Course and would look to connect Schuur Park and Riverside Drive, a connection that Dowagiac City Manager Kevin Anderson said has long been a hope for the community. 

Due to the size of the project, the City will be applying for two grants to maximize the amount of grant funding available. The Elks Trail grant is being applied for in two phases with the hope that the entire trail can be constructed at one time. 

The first is for Elks Trail East for a total project cost of $386,800, committing the City’s matching funds of $100,600 (26 percent). The second is for Elks Trail West for a total project cost of $461,700, committing the City’s matching funds of $161,700 (35 percent).

According to Anderson, the city has worked with the Dowagiac Elks Club over the past several years to secure a mutually acceptable easement for a trail to be developed. The City applied for a grant last year for completion of the trail and were unsuccessful, and thus decided to submit the applications again this year. 

The council also authorized the City Manager to submit a grant application to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund for a project to improve accessibility at Rudy Park.

The overall design of Rudy Park calls for the creation of a parking lot and sidewalks that lead to multiple level access points on the water. For the grant, this project has also been broken into phases. The first phase, being applied for this grant cycle, will be the parking lot and sidewalks. Anderson noted that, historically, the state has prioritized small grant projects, those seeking grant funds of $50,000, so the phasing of this project is a strategic approach with the intent to increase the funding probability. 

In other business, Two nuisance properties were noted at 120 Oak Street and at 307 Pokagon.  A concerned resident, who lives near one of the properties, voiced her concerns Monday night.

“It’s basically, I guess you would call it a shelter–for the cats, for the raccoons, for the possums,” she said.  “Everything crawling in and out.”

The annual lease for Twistees Soft Serve Ice Cream shop will be renewed.  Twistees, located at 231 S. Front Street, also specializes in Slushies and Arctic Swirls.

“This is one I’ve been looking forward to,” said Mayor Lyons, “because I’m going to say, this has had a few twists!”  

The City Council voted to purchase a substation transformer back-up unit, in case of an outage.  This particular transformer can be set to operate on two different voltage systems, allowing a seamless switch between stations.  Price (from Sunbelt Solomon): $334,915.

The Community Project Funding Grant was supported to help upkeep peoples’ homes.  Another $100,000 may be available.

“It’s a rare opportunity,” said Mayor Lyons.  “It may not happen again in a generation.”

It was also noted, since the onset of the pandemic, many trash companies have suspended their ‘big weekend cleanup service’ where residents could bring larger items and amounts of trash to the curb for pickup.  One waste management company may be willing to resume this again. Dumpsters however, will be available for spring cleanup and will be advertised in the future.

In further business, Eileen Crouse of the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce took the podium to discuss upcoming chamber events.

“On June 24th, we are bringing back the Dowagiac Home and Gardens tour,” said Crouse.  Seven homes are to be featured and volunteers will be providing general cleanup. “We really want to showcase the neighborhoods of our beautiful city.”

The Town and Country Garden Club will host their Annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 20 at the Commercial Street Parking Lot. Perennials, Annuals, ground cover, and more will be featured.

The Culpepper Merriweather Circus will be setting up its tents in Dowagiac on Tuesday, June 20.  Bouncy houses, pony rides, face painting, and more will be offered in addition to their 90-minute, action-packed main event.