Jackson residents are invited to celebrate the official opening of a new trail that increases pedestrian access and creates safe walks to school! A ribbon cutting event is planned for the new Ella Sharp Park Trail on Friday, Sept. 17 at 11:30 a.m.
The new trail along Elmdale Drive through Ella Sharp Park replaces a 30 year old pedestrian trail that had deteriorating surfaces, flooding issues, and was close to vehicle traffic. When the 1 mile long trail officially opens, walkers, runners and bikers can enjoy a new path that’s wider, further set back from the street, and has a dedicated bridge over a drain.
The improved trail also goes beyond the original length of the old trail, creating a new stretch along S. Jackson Street that better connects Ella Sharp Park to Jackson’s south side neighborhood. Because this trail is often used by students to reach Middle School at Parkside and the Sharp Park Academy, the City is using a Safe Routes to School grant from the State of Michigan to fund most of the project.
The City of Jackson has been planning this improvement for several years with Jackson Public Schools (JPS). The school district expects this trail to increase the amount of students walking and biking to school. “We are very pleased to see the work of the Safe Routes to School Plan come to fruition,” said Kriss Giannetti, JPS Assistant Superintendent of Communications and Community Outreach. “This trail will provide safe routes to school for our children for years to come.”
Kelli Hoover, the City’s Parks and Recreation Director, says she’s excited to see Jackson’s trail system expand. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we’ve seen more residents using our parks and trails for safe outdoor exercise. The new Ella Sharp Park Trail offers our residents more exercise options,” Hoover said. “With the new trail being double the width of the old one, and further set back from the street, pedestrians will have more room to share the trail and won’t have to worry about interacting with vehicle traffic.”
All Jackson residents are welcome to attend the event, which will feature words from City and school district officials. The ribbon cutting will take place on the new pedestrian bridge off Elmdale Drive in Ella Sharp Park, 3225 Fourth Street. A live stream of the ribbon cutting event will be available on the City’s Facebook page starting at 11:30 a.m.