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Alpena Municipal Council approves installation of Born Learning Trail

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Signage marking an entrance to Starlite Park is pictured here on Monday off of State Street. The park will soon be home to a new Born Learning trail, which will be installed by United way of Northeast Michigan.

ALPENA — The Alpena Municipal Council on Monday unanimously agreed to allow United Way of Northeast Michigan to install a Born Learning Trail in Starlite Park.

Born Learning trails provide interactive learning activities and quality engagement opportunities for young children and their families while they’re out on a stroll or visiting a playground, according to bornlearning.org.

The trail would be located along the sidewalk from State Street to the splash pad and 10 signs held up by posts would be installed as part of the project. Painting on the sidewalk would also be required as part of the learning activities.

It was not immediately clear when the trail would be installed.

City Engineer Rick Sullenger said staff reviewed the request and wanted it to go before city council since it would be a new installation. Sullenger said the only staff concerns were the maintenance associated with the installation and painting on the sidewalk.

“The posts would represent additional areas where hand maintenance would be required,” he said. “This is not going to be significant — the amount of hand maintenance — we’re down there right now with weed wackers to go around the trees and shrubs so it would just be a matter of a few minutes of additional time when doing that hand maintenance in the park.

Mayor Matt Waligora asked Joe Gentry, executive director of the United Way of Northeast Michigan, about the long-term maintenance of the sidewalks once they were painted.

Gentry said they would apply the paint using stencils, and depending on how much the sidewalk activities are used, he expected the paint would last four to six years.

“We’re prepared to constantly keep that updated,” Gentry said.

Gentry also told the council about several Born Learning trails that were installed in Charlevoix, where a leadership group started with three trails and expanded to five trails.

He said the trails had been installed in Charlevoix for six years and the group has not had to rework them, except for one that was on a public sidewalk. He said it then takes that group an hour to replenish the paint.

Waligora said he didn’t have any other concerns with the project.

Mayor ProTem Cindy Johnson said she liked the project and thought it was a good project.

“Sounds like a great project, let’s get ‘er done,” Councilman Danny Mitchell said.

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