I would request the citizens of Georgetown Township consider adopting the long term goal of converting “Chicago Drive” into “Chicago Parkway”. (I say long term, because I think it should be done at the same time as there is a gradual process of tax reduction in the Township.) In reality, Georgetown Township is already embarking on aspects of this project, but just focused on the downtown area (and in my opinion not spending responsibly but wastefully -see http://www.georgetownexaminer.com/2016/02/the-chicago-drive-landscaping-project-an-analysis-by-j-parnell-mccarter/ ). The full length of Chicago Drive, and not even just the downtown area, is what many visitors through or to Georgetown Township see, and the full length offers some unique opportunities to enhance the quality of life in the Township.
I am specifically recommending four things for Chicago Drive:
- Over time make a pedestrian/bike path beside the full length of the Chicago Drive train track, starting from the pedestrian/bike path that is already there along a stretch of it in the downtown area (see picture below).
- Between such pedestrian/bike path and Chicago Drive intersperse evergreen and deciduous trees, as well as on the other side of Chicago Drive, both for purposes of beautification of Chicago Drive and the health and safety of users of the pedestrian/bike path (but avoid expensive additions like lighting and irrigation systems, which significantly add to the initial cost as well as on-going maintenance and operational costs). It may also be advisable over time to construct fencing between such pedestrian/bike path and the train track for safety purposes.
- Encourage Hudsonville and Grandville to continue the pedestrian/bike path beside the train track in their areas, so that pedestrians and bicyclists can travel between the downtown areas of Hudsonville, Jenison, and Grandville, as well as get onto the Kent Trails towards Grandville, leading north to Millennium Park and even John Ball Park, and leading south to Whistlestop Park in Byron Township
- Such Chicago Drive pedestrian/bike path be the main artery for all Georgetown Township pedestrian/bike paths, so that Township residents can safely get there and then onto all that it accesses.
Below is a picture of the pedestrian/bike path currently beside the Chicago Drive railroad track:
Below is a map showing where the railroad track intersects with Kent Trails towards Grandville:
Although there already is a Kent Trails entrance at the terminus of Baldwin near the Grandville Clean Water Plant, it is of less than ideal utility because of the frequency with which much of the path is covered with water. Entry of Kent Trails near Chicago Drive and Ivanrest seems to be more reliable.
I am persuaded that the Chicago Drive pedestrian/bike path could do for Jenison what the Katy Trail has done for Dallas: increase property values all along the way and improve quality of life in the area. Below are some websites describing the Katy Trail in Dallas and its effects:
There is no reason this project cannot be done over time and in stages, starting from the downtown area. But such short term work should be done with the long term goal of converting “Chicago Drive” into “Chicago Parkway”, in a cost effective way.
Unlike running skating rinks and farmers’ markets (which are best left to the private sector), building and maintaining roadways and parks is something most efficiently and effectively done by the public sector, and it can and should be done in a way that keeps taxation low on the taxpayer. This recommendation, appearing as Item #18 in the Contract with Georgetown Township of 2016 at http://www.georgetownexaminer.com/contract-with-georgetown-township-of-2016/, meets these criteria.