JACKSON, Mich. — The new Ella Sharp Park Trail connects to the MLK Equality Trail to nearby Sharp Park Academy and Middle School at Parkside.
It was built as a safe way for children to go to school.
Sharp Park Academy Principal Jasper Lusby said the four-year long process was a priority for her and for Jackson Public Schools.
“We do have a lot of kids that came from the surrounding communities. It’s walkable, but it wasn’t the safe walk for those kids. In a day and age where parents are working two jobs and families are stretched to their limits. If a kid misses a bus, it’s a catastrophe,” Lusby said.
A Safe Routes to School grant provided $400,000 for the project.
Safe Routes to School Michigan Evaluations Coordinator Colleen Synk said, after looking at all the data, it made sense to help Jackson Public Schools get the grant.
“There was some multi-use path that was shorter. It wasn’t up to today’s standards and it was in poor condition. We actually expanded on it as well,” Sink said. “The facilities here are really more welcoming. It’s not just the ability to walk and bike, but it is going to really help people make that decision to walk and bike to school.”
The trail replaced the existing one on Elmdale Road running from South Jackson Street to Hickory Avenue, a 30-year-old pedestrian trail that according to the city had deteriorating surfaces, flooding issues and was close to vehicle traffic. The new trail is farther away from the road and 10 feet wide. Lights will also be added to the trail at some point in the future.
“We really would like to make it so that every school has the opportunity to use non-motorized infrastructure to get kids to and from school ,” Lusby said. “And then also explore events like the National Biking to School Day, National Wakling to School day. There’s a lot of different ways to encourage and incorporate some of those other programs. Through using these trails and bringing it all into the school and tying it all together where the community comes together.”
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