Benton Twp. supports new trail along M-63 as part of Whirlpool’s Lakeview Trail system

A newly-dedicated bike trail system in Berrien County is one step closer to getting even larger.

The Benton Township Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a resolution in support of a new trail along M-63 that would become a part of the Lakeview Trail system unveiled last September at Whirpool’s M-63 campus.

The trail would begin at Higman Park Road and extend about 2.5 miles to Monte Road, where it connects to the existing trails on the Whirlpool campus, according to Harbor Shores Community Redevelopment Managing Director Chris Cook, who spoke to the board during the meeting.

(Source: Berrien County Trail Network Master Plan Interactive Map)

Cook said the township’s support allows the Berrien County Road Department to apply for grants through the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternative Program.

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“This has been a team effort with Whirlpool, Cornerstone, Harbor Shores, the county, the road department, some biking groups and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission,” said Cook, who is also president emeritus at Abonmarche and sits on a multitude of local boards and committees. “We’re not asking the township for any financial contribution … [just] your support.”

Board members questioned whether they would be responsible for maintenance or have any liability for the trail. Cook said the road department will own the trail, maintain the trail and carry the insurances.

During the September ribbon cutting, Whirlpool CEO Marc Bitzer said the company wants to play a role in the community’s health through the trails, as well as increase local access to the beauty of their campus.

“We want it open for the community, [to] make it accessible for the community,” Blitzer said, of the bike trails at Whirlpool. “I firmly also believe it’s a little bit like a Field of Dreams. You build it, people will come and use it. and that’s what we’re hoping for, that people really actively use it.”

For more on the Berrien County Trail Network Master Plan, click here.