(Publisher’s note: County Commissioner Kent Martinez-Kratz of Chelsea agreed to allow me to publish this letter.)
Dear Washtenaw County Road Commissioners, Managing Director Townsend, Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commissioners, and Parks Director Tetens:
I am asking that the Washtenaw County Road Commission and/or Parks and Recreation staff take a one year moratorium on requesting permits allowing for the development of the Border to Boarder trail on contested land generally identified as the Bolland Right of Way.
The Washtenaw County Road Commission in conjunction with the County Parks and Recreation and private partners having been moving ahead with development plans in Lima Township. Surveys have been completed, title work has been done. A representative for the Huron Waterloo Pathways says “We’re ready for construction this year”.
Many residents feel that the use of the Boland Right of Way, established in 1898, is their property. The have plowed it, farmed it, and cared for it for over one hundred years. These residents have contracts which state that the land has reverted back to them. Road Commission staff argues that they have not paid taxes, and maps show it as County property.
This issue is new to many of the Parks Commissioners, Road Commissioners and County Commissioners that I have spoken with. Yet, Washtenaw County resources have been used from each of these departments toward the planning and use of the contested property.
A Border to Border trail is a wonderful idea. But the planning should be deliberate with the support of the community. Lima Township passed a resolution unanimously opposing this development. Most county residents are supportive of bike trails but further discussion needs to be held on the location of these trails. We should not be utilizing our resources against residents who may have a legitimate claim of this property. We should take our time and work for solutions with our citizens.
Washtenaw County Commissioner