Thomas Township Parks and Trails – Partnership for a Better Today

In categories: Blog

June 11, 2014

John Corriveau (left), Thomas Township Parks and Recreation director and Craig Monohan (right), Swan Valley High School teacher, accept the 2014 Board of Directors’ Community Improvement Initiative grant award.

On June 9, 2014 at our 2014 Annual Celebration, Saginaw Community Foundation awarded the 2014 Board of Directors’ Community Improvement Initiative grant to Thomas Township Parks and Recreation in partnership with Swan Valley High School. The grant award is for $25,000 to be used for the “Thomas Township Parks and Trails – Partnership for a Better Today.” 

 

The Project

The Thomas Township Trail serves hundreds of walkers, runners and bike riders throughout the year and Roethke Park in Thomas Township hosts thousands of community members for concerts, recreational activities and special events each year. This proposal is partnership between Thomas Township Parks and Recreation department and Swan Valley High School that would complete safety projects on the trail (including fencing and a solar caution light), clear out overgrown and downed trees at Roethke Park, build benches and bike racks for the Thomas Township Trail and initiate Phase One of a trailhead pavilion that would eventually provide restroom facilities for trail-goers. Thomas Township Parks and Recreation Department will coordinate the project with assistance from Swan Valley High School staff and students. The safety aspect of this project, as well as restroom services, will serve all of the Thomas Township Community and neighboring guests.

 

“If we build it, they will come.”

It took years of planning, grants and fundraising, with lots of residents rolling up their sleeves to create the Thomas Township Trail, which connects the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail with a 2.3 mile paved pathway crossing Gratiot, O’Hern and Ederer Roads in Thomas Township. In 2013, the trail blazed alongside Swan Valley High School. This afforded an opportunity for local high school students to join walkers, runners and bike riders as part of physical education classes during the school day, and as part of after-school training for cross country and track and field teams. At the onset, an average of more than 200 community members used the trail regularly. Thomas Township and Swan Valley High School sponsored 5K running/walking events on the trail, attracting more participants from beyond our township community.

 

Now, with 1,800 high school, middle and elementary school children in the Swan Valley School District participating in group, classroom and family treks on the trail, there is a need for additional safety at the crosswalk at the entrance to the high school on O’Hern Road. Fencing is needed between the trail and high school parking lot along with benches and bike racks for rest stops along the way. Bathroom facilities and a meeting area for picnickers and groups are needed as well. Along with the trail project, recent severe weather and high winds have left us with a need to clear some trees at Roethke Park. This park is used by our students and many community members, and that is the site of our annual Haunted Train and Christmas Train and Festival of Lights. Annually about 4,500 to 5,500 people each year attend these two events.

 

Since the Thomas Township Parks and Recreation Commission was established, the Parks and Recreation Department has worked cooperatively with Swan Valley Schools to share resources and provide access for all residents to recreational programs that positively impact our community. For this project, Thomas Township Parks and Recreation Department will team up with Swan Valley High School industrial arts students and instructors, Swan Valley High School graduating seniors and Swan Valley High School National Honor Society to build benches and bike racks for the Thomas Township Trail; to help clean up Roethke Park annually in the spring and fall; to solicit revenue for fencing that keeps cars from driving on the trail; and to build the first phase of a trailhead pavilion that will eventually house restrooms. 

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