September 8, 2017
After more than two years of work and planning and some $400,000 in generous grants, the City of Albion and Albion College will celebrate a new 1.2-mile biking and walking College-Community Trail with a ribbon cutting and grand opening Saturday, September 16, at 3 p.m. at Victory Park near the bandshell.
“Albion’s going to be put on the map with this,” said Danielle Nelson, ’17, who is now project manager for the Albion Economic Development Corporation and a member of the Calhoun County Trailway Alliance, and who, as a student, worked for more than a year on the project. “For myself, having started this as a student, it’s gratifying seeing the end product. To see it come to fruition is really a cool thing.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will coincide with the City of Albion’s annual Festival of the Forks as well as the College’s Family Day. Trail maps will be available as will local City officials, College representatives, and trailway group members who can answer questions and provide more information about the new trail.
The new 10-foot-wide paved trail, open to biking, hiking and other nonmotorized recreational uses, extends the Albion River Trail that begins on the west side of town and runs past the Ludington Center in downtown Albion before traversing along the Kalamazoo River to Victory Park. The new trail section starts at the bandshell in Victory Park, extends south to and through the College’s Nancy G. Held Equestrian Center, then connects with route M-99 south of Albion’s downtown.
Albion City Manager Sheryl Mitchell, who helped secure the initial grant to get the project under way, said the trail is another step forward for the City.
“While this is a valuable local asset and an exciting extension of our existing Albion River Trail, this project does something even more special for the City,” she said.
According to Mitchell, Albion will be able to celebrate itself as the convergence and hub of three major regional trails—the Iron Belle Trail, the Michigan Great Lake-to-Lake Trail, and the National Scenic North Country Trail that runs from New York to North Dakota.
“That regional connection is one more reason we can celebrate Albion as a center of activity and a place citizens and visitors can enjoy,” she said.
The trail was made possible thanks to an initial $294,000 grant to the City of Albion and Albion College by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The College was also awarded a $5,000 grant this summer from the Albion Community Foundation’s Riverfront Development and Environmental Fund and, most recently, a $115,000 grant from the Kalamazoo River Community Recreation Fund to complete the trail extension project.
Albion College President Mauri Ditzler said the trail extension is one more way the College and the City of Albion are being connected.
"The construction of this extension of the Albion River Trail from downtown Albion to Albion College's campus is not only beneficial to residents, students and others who enjoy the recreational benefits of such a resource, it is also symbolic of the connection between the College and the City,” he said. “We expect this connection to continue to grow as we develop more corridors between campus and community.”