The Mebane City Council approved Mebane Recreation and Parks’ request to apply for a grant that will provide funding to allow the department to extend the trails at Lake Michael.
In June, Mebane Recreation and Parks held a virtual public input meeting and an in-person meeting to explain plans for extension of the trails at Lake Michael Park, as well as draw feedback from residents on the project.
The department felt a public input meeting was necessary prior to applying for the grant that will fund the project, called the Recreation Trails Program Grant. And, for the most part, the response from the park’s neighbors, and the public at-large, was positive and favorable of the project.
The extensions have been a part of the Lake Michael Mast Plan since 2006, and call for the trails to be extended all around the lake. Currently, the trail is back-and-forth, and is roughly 1.2 miles. If the extensions are added, the trails will total roughly 3.1 miles.
The trail would be turned into a loop all around the lake, which is something Davis said most bikers, hikers, walkers and runners prefer over a back-and-forth trail.
There is already a project in the works, approved in this year’s budget, cutting a trail that will connect The Retreat with the entryway to the park. With the addition of the proposed trail, the loop would be complete. The plan calls for the repair of sections of the existing trails, as well.
Davis said the project will improve the city’s ability to host events and activities, along with improving user experience.
“From a programming and user experience, it would be so much better for the users of Lake Michael and give an easy way to access the lake and the amenities at the lake, whether it be boating, fishing, running, hiking, jogging, playing at the playground, using a shelter,” Davis said “This gives the City a little bit more programming opportunities with possible 5ks and 10ks, triathlons, [for example].”
Johnson said the entirety of the proposed extensions are on city property, however there are areas in which the trails will be very close to residential properties.
“The entire trail is on the city property, even the areas where it looks like we get a little close, either to water or to residences or other properties, it's all on city property,” he said.
Davis added public input, and approval, of the extensions is an extremely high priority in the plans for the trails.
The department mailed letters to all those residences in close proximity to the lake ahead of the Thursday evening meeting, and Davis said, if the grant and project are approved, they will be working closely with those who live near the proposed trails.
“As we as we look at this project, we’re striving for a happy and healthy community,” he said.
“We want to build these trails with our neighbors and for our neighbors and strive to be harmonious and be partners with this project.”
The grant for the project would be for $100,000, which, Davis said, is essentially half of its total cost. If the Mebane receives the grant, the timeline for the project’s completion would depend on if the funds are disbursed all at once or incrementally. The department hopes the project can be completed in two to four years.
Now that the department has the city’s permission to apply for the grant, they must wait for a response on whether the application has been approved. If it is approved, the trails will be extended in the coming years.
Davis made it clear that the city council’s decision on Monday has no bearing on if the project will happen or not. This situation will be updated as more is learned.