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Macomb Orchard Trail Proves Boon to Businesses

Not only do the residents benefit from the rails-to-trails project, businesses big and small have found the Macomb Orchard Trail to be an important amenity.

The idea to have a hike and bike path where the old Canadian National Railroad was running seemed like a recreation dream 10 years ago.

Now, Shelby Township residents aren't the only ones enjoying that dream on a daily basis, so are the local businesses. 

Shelby Township businesses along the trail are seeing an increase in trail use, and they say that increase is bringing people in their doors.

A salesperson at Elaine's Bagels at 25 Mile and Shelby Road says that as soon they see people using the trail and coming in to eat. The trail literally goes across the driveway of the shopping area. "More people are on their bikes or running and will stop in for a cool beverage," said Marie Messawar of Elaine's Bagels.

"This trail is such an economic benefit to the local Macomb County communities. There are hundreds of people on the trail on any given day, walking, biking, running, and roller blading," said John Crumm, director of planning with Macomb County Road Department.

The asphalt will be completed soon, too. Shelby residents will then be able to jump on the trail and ride straight through to the city of Richmond on a completely paved surface. 

"We expect with the new asphalt that even more will begin to utilize our linear park," Crumm said. "We also are rebuilding the bridge in the Armada section and that should be completed in August, as well. There are some really picturesque spots on the trail. It really is a jewel for our communities."

The owner of Dairy Queen on the opposite side of the same intersection said they try to lure trail goers into their store. "We put signs out saying we're open to let people know we're here," said Teresa Matthews. "So many people come here from the trail and they share with others that we are here. I've had people come from the Birmingham area on the trail."

Employers and employees also get to enjoy the trail. According to an economic benefit study of trails and greenways, companies seeking to relocate or establish a corporate headquarters have cited the availability of trails as a significant factor in choosing a locale. 

Trail Events Boosts Awareness

According another study on trail events, events on a trail will introduce people to new places and new activities. All of this also helps boost the economy. In 2006 when phase one of the Macomb Orchard Trail was completed, Macomb County hosted a running event on the trail, the Apple Blossom Run. That 9K run, which went from Roberts Elementary School to the trail head start, off Dequindre to the Glacier Club Golf Course in Washington, is now an annual event in April.

Washington Township choose to have an event on the trail in their community in hopes of bringing new people to town and providing a fun activity as well. They had almost 100 participants in their recent 5K/10K Run as part of the Washington Township Festival. "The race brings new faces to our community and shows them all what we have to offer," said Township Supervisor Dan O'Leary.

Another event coming up soon on the trail is the second Romeo 2 Richmond Half Marathon 5K Run on Sept. 18, with some 1,000-plus participants expected. With a larger scale event like this, people are expected to come from all over Michigan and even out of state.

Having events like the Romeo2Richmond race help to promote the trail and boost the economy in the communities by bringing people to town.

"We had people from out of state last year and expect this year to bring even more from outside of Macomb County and outside of Michigan. This is just another benefit of having the Macomb Orchard Trail here in Macomb County," Crumm said. "Not only does the trail provide recreation but it can bring people from a far to our communities daily and for large events too. More people means more spending."

Skeptical Taxpayer June 28, 2011 at 12:24 PM
In a Romeo Observer article in 2003 entitled “Macomb Orchard Trail Supporters Recognized”, Dave Diegel then Macomb County Finance Director made a presentation detailing the costs of the Macomb Orchard Trail at that time: $8.9 million. On the 2011 Construction posted on the Macomb Road Department website they list another $1.2 million for the trail to replace a bridge and resurface the trail east to 33 Mile Road. Just those two citations total $10 million spent on the Macomb Orchard Trail and truthfully, we have probably spent a lot more money on the Trail. Has anyone ever seen a complete accounting of all the money spent in the last 10 years on the Macomb Orchard Trail? The answer is no. Nor have we ever seen any evidence that we could verify that documented the benefits that the Trail's supporters' claim. I am glad that Elaine sold a few more bagels but is that any justification for spending $10 million to possibly benefit a few businesses or to entertain a few very vocal special interest groups? Most days the Trail is completely empty. If you ask around the majority of residents are afraid to go on that trail (or any of the other trails we are spending millions of dollars on) alone or allow their kids to travel on the trail alone either. From the beginning the Trail was the creation of government bureaucrats and special interest groups funded by a lot of deceived taxpayers.
Brian Powers June 28, 2011 at 02:05 PM
This is a very popular trail in our area. I actually get calls from home buyers who say one of their top criteria in finding a home is to be within safe biking distance of this trail.
Dorothy Bade June 28, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Looks like it is worth checking out. Rails to Trails is a great utilization of natural resources. We have traveled on several across the state. <+><
Skeptical Taxpayer June 28, 2011 at 03:24 PM
Sure, the housing market is booming because of the Macomb Orchard Trail. Of course there is another $4.1 million that will be spent in Shelby & Utica from 2009 - 2012 on bike trails other than Orchard Trail (2009 River Bends $438,000, 2010 Utica Heritage Park $950,000, August 2011, $800,000 for 1.25 miles River Bends to Utica, 2012 $1.9 million from River Bends to 25 Mile Road). Additionally, the Macomb Road Dept lists $3.7 million more on other bike paths in Macomb in 2011 (Harrison Twp & County Line Rd). Why should taxpayers spend millions to help you earn a real estate commission? One final note that illustrates the hypocrisy on the subject of the Orchard Trail and the other bike trails. In the June 15 edition of the C and G News, "Utica Set to Unveil Refurbished Heritage Park", Mayor Noonan describing that 2011, $800,000, 1.25 mile path Utica and Shelby plans to construct in River Bends Park: “met with 'engineers to plan its route through the city's unused 25 acres that was part of the old Rochester-Utica Recreation area...."It's virgin,” Noonan said of the land that will feature the trail”. Patch readers & reporters: how many times have Shelby Twp, County officials, and others have crucified ITC for cutting down trees to maintain the power lines but when it is the government using millions of dollars of taxpayer’s money to cut down hundreds of trees in "virgin" forests for a bike path well, that’s a different story.
Julie Avery Roose June 28, 2011 at 03:46 PM
I, and my children as well, use the Macomb Orchard Trail daily. I have never felt unsafe. I've used it in all seasons without any issues. On weekends it gets a decent amount of traffic, and also when daylight starts to last longer the trail gets a lot of use in the evenings. Maybe you've not used it much yourself, but I love the trail! I do usually see a lot of the same people when I'm out there, so I know of several that use it quite often. Also, when I talk of the trail to friends and how I'm able to use it as my bike and running path, they are quite jealous. It's a nice alternative to just running in a neighborhood, and certainly much nicer than running or biking on the main roads. I think many communities would benefit from similar trails. I wish there was a trail that stretched all the way to my work, then I could bike to work in the nicer weather and save a lot of money on gas!!
Skeptical Taxpayer June 28, 2011 at 06:31 PM
The Macomb Orchard Trail has been used to justify the 70 Mile Macomb Trailways project and the Trailways project has been used to justify the expenditure of tax money on the Macomb Orchard Trail. They are conjoined twins and they are both government bureaucrat and special interest $34 million rip-offs of the general public. Even though I have spent many hours on the trails, I cannot honestly say that this was a good use of the public’s money. Furthermore, the half-truths, gross exaggerations, and outright lies by government officials that have been used to market this trail have been a disgrace. Generally, I don’t think it is ever a good idea to tolerate dishonesty from public officials even when it is something I agree with. Just like Elaine’s so-called booming bagel business, some real estate agent’s claim that any of these trails helped him sell a house does not justify spending millions of tax money on these projects to benefit a few people. Furthermore, along with a lot of other people, I have been an observer of the train wreck that is the Macomb County real estate market. I have never seen a real estate listing marketing any of the Trails when selling a house. If any of you have seen an advertisement that mentions the Trail, produce it.

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