Thursday, June 7, 2007

JJ Bike Path Plan Still on Hold

County wants more time on Double JJ grant decision

Two deadline extensions are being requested by the Oceana County Board of Commissioners so the county can decide whether to pull the Double JJ Resort bike path project from a state and federal grant project.

The county originally was to make a decision on the bike path by June 1, but now wants until Jan. 1. It also will ask that the grant project deadline be changed from Aug. 31, 2007 to Aug. 31 2008.

At issue is $312,000 used to build a public bicycle path through the resort. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) put a hold on construction late last summer because the resort allegedly filled a wetland. Over the winter, Double JJ submitted a wetland mitigation plan to the DEQ, but the plan was rejected.

The county applied for the grant money for Double JJ. It came from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and then through the county to Double JJ.

County Administrator Paul Inglis said HUD has offered to change the grant, allowing the bicycle trail to be removed from the project, but would require repayment of the $312,000.

In October 2004 the county applied for and received a $1.07 million grant for the bike trail, high speed Internet and other improvements for expansion at Double JJ. That grant was amended in 2005 to include water system improvements. Inglis said Double JJ has created over 200 jobs as required.

"I want to give a little positive spin to this," Inglis said. "This is not a failed project. There is one component of the project that is in question."

He also said officials need to determine if all or just part of the grant is in jeopardy.

from the Oceana Herald-Journal article- see FAIR USE notice.
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