Financial management for the Pentwater to Hart Bike Trail project will now fall to the hands of Oceana County Administrator Bob Sobie.
The Oceana County Board of Commissioners approved being the fiduciary for grant money to be used for the project at its regular meeting Feb. 11. The responsibility of administering grant money will belong to Sobie.
Sobie told the board he recently had a conference call with the bike trail Friends group. He said the group initially wanted the Oceana County Road Commission to administer any grants, but for various reasons, the road commission declined. Sobie said there was originally $1.4 million in grants of which there’s $1.4 million remaining. Sobie, however, told the board he did not want to have to verify the legitimacy of the various work performed, and that responsibility should fall to someone from the trail Friends group.
“I can do it if you want me to do it,” Sobie said. “No county money would be expended for the project.”
The Pentwater to Hart trail would extend the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Bicycle Trail State Park to Pentwater. The proposed route would include portions of Water Street and Johnson Street in the City of Hart, 72nd Avenue, Wayne Road and Longbridge Road in Hart and Pentwater townships.
“This is a Golden opportunity for Oceana County,” Erickson said.
Commissioner Paul Erickson said there also are plans being made for another trail segment from Ludington to Pentwater and from Ludington to Reed City.
Although he said he fully supports the project, board Chairman Bob Walker expressed concerns about Sobie being the administrator on multiple grants as being a grant administrator was not a part of Sobie’s job description. Sobie currently is administering grants for the Peterson Farms project, Community Development Block Grants for housing repairs, the Shelby Village water main extension project and the proposed Shelby Township Park. Walker said if the county continues to take on grant administration for other entities, it might have to hire someone and that the county should be compensated.
The move passed in a 6-1 vote with Commissioner Martha Meyette voting ‘no,’ and she declined to comment on her vote.