Marsha Chartrand

One step closer to connecting village to Watkins State Park

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Participants at last week’s Parks & Recreation open house study the maps provided to determine some of the best uses for local parks and recreational properties.

Last Wednesday night almost forty Manchester village, township, and other area residents attended the Manchester Village Parks and Recreation Open House to give input that will be added to the joint 5 year Parks and Recreation plan.

Attendees were able to both vote on new recreation features proposed by organizers, like having the River Raisin running through Manchester be part of a regional water trail, or connecting Manchester to State or National trails like the Iron Belle Trail or the Great Lake to Lake Trail, or they could add their own suggestions like a dog park or restrooms for Chi Bro Park that may be voted on.

One focus of the open house was the possibility of building a trail along one of the two old rail beds running west out of the village. This trail would connect the Village of Manchester’s multi-use trail and the trail running through the whole length of Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve, both of which are on the same dis-used rail bed. The recreation benefits for village and township residents would be immense, as they would be able to walk, run and bike safely, with no traffic, directly out to Michigan’s newest State Park, but it could also provide a boost to village businesses, as State Park attendees would  be able to come into Manchester on the trail to take advantage of restaurants, ice cream, shopping, and more.

Manchester Township is currently waiting to hear whether they have received a “Connecting Communities” grant from Washtenaw County to fund a feasibility study for the Manchester – Watkins Lake Trail. Chris Nordstrom of Carlise-Wortman, the engineering firm with whom the village works, was in attendance at the meeting. He explained that even if that grant fails, the township has other options to proceed. In any case, the stretch of land that needs to be covered is approximately two miles. The township will either need to purchase the sections of the rail bed from residents whose property it crosses, acquire easements from them, or create a whole new trail separate from the rail bed on property, to which they can acquire rights. In one case, a section of the old rail bed has been turned into a subdivision road, which presents one of the challenges. The township will hear in November or December whether or not they received the grant for the feasibility study.

The open house is just one of the formats the village and township have used to collect input. Residents and other interested parties can take an online survey at, or they can email comments to or The Parks Commission is collecting input through Labor Day, at which point all of the feedback will be processed.

Proposed areas for recreation were discussed and evaluated.

About 40 area residents attended the open house. Public comment is being accepted through Labor Day, Sept. 4.

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