LARA is participated in…
Bicycle Safety Class & Bike Ride
Wednesday, October 5th, 2011, 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Wittenbach/Wege Agriscience and Environmental Education Center
Lowell is very fortunate to have miles of trails weaving in and out of town. Misinformation and carelessness could lead to accidents on the trails so It's important trail users are up-to-date on their bicycle safety. Stephanie Mills from Mary Free Bed will lead a brief workshop on topics such as the importance of wearing a helmet and basic bicycle rules and laws. The workshop will last about an hour and then afterwards, Stephanie will lead a bike ride down the new Lowell Area Recreation Authority trail. LARA members will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have regarding the new trail.
Press Release 03/27/10
"Connecting Our Community"
Announcement at the Lowell Community Expo
$1,092,330 raised to build phase one!
|Earlier today at the Lowell Community EXPO, leaders of the Connecting Our Community capital campaign announced they have achieved their fund raising goal and will begin construction on the new trail way in Lowell in the spring of 2011. The announcement comes just one year after capital campaign was launched to the public. LARA, the Lowell Area Recreational Authority choose this large community venue to celebrate the accomplishment and announced they raised $1,092,330.
For years now, community surveys have ranked accessible trail ways as a top recreational priority for area residents. In 2004 LARA (the Lowell Area Recreational Authority) was formed when Lowell Charter Township, Vergennes Township and the City of Lowell agreed to work collaboratively on a trail project. Advocates have been working diligently toward making trials a reality for the Lowell area. Over the years this group hosted open houses for community input, conducted clean-ups along the future trail route, created a master plan and conducted a feasibility study.
The campaign cabinet began working with area philanthropists, local businesses and community donors to raise local contributions that would be matched by state and federal grants designated for non-motorized trail ways. There was strong local support from the beginning with the lead gift $150,000 from the Lowell Area Community Fund. Other local contributors that signed on before the campaign went public included The Frey Foundation, the Steelcase Foundation, Litehouse Inc and Amway Corporation
"It is so exciting to look back at where we started and realize how far we have come. All that planning and work has paid off. The Lowell community will have safe connections to schools and community parks as well as pathways for recreational activities such walking, running, and biking," said Betsy Davidson, one of three co-chairs for the fundraising campaign. " It was truly a community effort that will benefit the Lowell area for generations to come."
Once the campaign went public partnerships with local businesses paid off as payroll deduction plans were offered. Lowell Area Schools had over 40 employees participate with multi-year contributions for a combined donation of over $8,000. LARA received one of the first grants from the Lowell Cable TV fund for $15,000.
Lowell's trail is strategically located to intersect with other local trails. It will serve as a hub to larger regional and national trail systems. For that reason it was selected as a recipient of a $50,000 grant from the West Michigan Trails and Greenway Coalition.
All the local funding was used to leverage grants from the Michigan Department of Transportation and Michigan Department of Natural Resources. These agencies distribute state and federal funds earmarked for trail construction. Lowell's plan was ranked #1 of those submitted in the state for meeting the key funding criteria and was awarded over $650,000.
Liz Baker, Executive Director of the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the campaign described the benefits that trail ways will bring to the region. "Not only will these trails provide avenues for exercise and safe travel, but also they will connect our community. They will link our schools, parks, and neighborhoods with the local businesses and the downtown Riverwalk area. What an asset to our community."
West Michigan community and education advocate Bert Bleke was on hand as a keynote speaker to help LARA celebrate the announcement. Bleke was involved early in the project as superintendent of schools for Lowell and was one of the visionaries who saw how a trail would benefit the community. "What a great gift this trail will be to the people of Lowell. Lowell is a very generous community. You worked hard; you were persistent and you pulled this off without raising taxes, which is critical in this economy. You should be proud of this accomplishment. What tremendous community spirit you have here."
Press Release 12/14/09
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Trust Fund Board announced that the Lowell Area Recreation Authority has been awarded $398,000 for construction of Phase I of its trail project. Of the 175 applications received, Lowell’s trail project ranked #1 in meeting the criteria and guidelines established by the MDNR for the grant program. The public campaign, launched last March, seeks to create a paved pedestrian trail that links parks and schools in the Lowell community.
With this latest award, grant funding from MDNR and MDOT total $656,000. Remarkably, the trail is being constructed without a tax millage. The campaign has been well received by community members, local businesses as well as regional funding sources. Substantial commitments have been received from the Lowell Area Community Fund, the Steelcase Foundation, the Frey Foundation, Litehouse Inc, the Amway Corporation and most recently the Lowell Cable TV Fund.
The first phase of the trailway system will connect Lowell High School, and the Wittenbach/Wege Center in Vergennes Township with Creekside Park, Cherry Creek Elementary and the City of Lowell. Phase I of this trail will connect to the proposed trail connecting Lowell to Greenville. Conceptual plans for future phases of trails leading to Stoney Lakeside Park with a pedestrian bridge to Riverside Park in Lowell Township. Future plans also include connecting to the proposed Lowell to Ionia trail and to the North Country National Scenic Trail.
The group plans to announce final funding and construction plans at the Lowell EXPO on March 20th.
"This news is exciting for the entire community of Lowell, but especially for the LARA Board and the Campaign Cabinet of the Lowell Area Trailway. Some of us have been dreaming this dream since 2000, and when we are watching the construction next year, I for one will need a good pinch to prove it is real." Mari Stone
2008 Press Release
Saturday, March 28 at the Lowell Community Expo, leaders of the "Connecting Our Community" campaign announced the beginning of the public phase of a $750,000 fundraising effort to bring a three mile pedestrian trail way to the community of Lowell and the surrounding region.
Over the past several years, community surveys have ranked accessible trail ways as one of the top recreational priorities by area residents. In 2007, the Board of the Lowell Area Recreational Authority authorized the initiation of a public fundraising effort to bring community trails to the Lowell area. Since then, a group of dedicated community leaders has been working with area philanthropists and community donors to raise $750,000 as a local contribution for the $1.5 million trail way effort. The group will be seeking another $750,000 in state and federal grants designated for non-motorized trail ways.
To date, the "Connecting Our Community" campaign has raised over $360,532.00 in gifts and pledges for this project. "This campaign ensures that local residents will have safe connections to schools and community parks as well as pathways for recreational activities such as walking, running, and biking," said Betsy Davidson, one of three co-chairs for the fundraising campaign.
Liz Baker, Executive Director of the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the campaign described the benefits that trail ways will bring to the region, "Trails provide avenues for exercise and safe travel. More importantly, they provide another free activity for local families while connecting our schools, parks, and neighborhoods to the local business community."
The first phase of the trail way system will connect Lowell High School, and the Wittenbach/Wege Center in Vergennes Township with Creekside Park, Cherry Creek Elementary and the City of Lowell. Conceptual plans have been developed for trails leading to Stony Lakeside Park with a pedestrian bridge to Riverside Park in Lowell Township. Additional planned phases include connecting to the Kent County Fairgrounds, the dog park, and the downtown shopping area. The local trail will also serve as a hub to larger regional and national trail systems including connections to Greenville and Ionia and the North Country National Scenic Trail, which extends through seven states.
"We salute the Lowell Area for their vision, trail planning and fund raising accomplishments," said Annamarie Bauer with the Department of Natural Resources, Recreation and Trails Sections. "The Lowell Area Trailway will provide community recreation opportunities and help achieve important connections in the regional and state trail network." Also attending the Expo for the announcement was Congressman Vern Ehlers and Representative Dave Hildenbrand.
"The announcement marks the beginning of the community phase of this campaign which has already seen tremendous support from regional foundations and local business leaders," said Jodie Seese, Campaign Co-chair. Seese expressed her appreciation for early leadership commitments from the Lowell Area Community Fund, the Steelcase Foundation, the Frey Foundation, Litehouse Inc, Amway Corporation and the Look Memorial Fund, just to name a few. "The support so far has been outstanding. Now we will work with the community to complete the fund raising efforts. Together we will build trails that will connect our community for generations to come."