By Leah Craig
U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) was in Pinckney Monday to visit with local officials to discuss an upcoming project funded through a budget allocation she helped lobby for.
Slotkin successfully advocated for $2 million in direct funding for rural communities, ranging from major water projects in Mason and Williamston to aiding the Lansing Police Department’s Crisis Assessment Team.
The Village of Pinckney was selected as one of ten projects in Michigan’s 8th District to receive the federal funding– a resource not often allocated to rural communities.
In February 2020, the Pinckney Community School District was awarded a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation to build a crosswalk across Dexter-Pinckney Road at Pinckney High School. The initial concept was proposed by then-students Grace Eliott and Sophia Oakes, who likened crossing the road to school to playing the video game Frogger.
The area is subject to substantial vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and the lack of sidewalk or designated crosswalks made it a priority issue. Local leaders from the Department of Natural Resources, Pinckney School District, and Pinckney Police Department confirmed that surveys of parents, police, and Village residents showed overwhelming support for the proposal.
Slotkin said the proposed multi-modal pathway stood out due to the vision and goals already established by the community: a specific, non-partisan blueprint that seeks to address safety concerns while also fostering a community connection.
“There’s a lot of talk about how we do our best for kids in schools,” she said in address to leaders of the Pinckney community Monday afternoon. She daid that addressing the issue of how students physically get to school is a tangible way to actually ensure the safety and well-being of students and pedestrians.
Slotkin also referenced the November 30th shooting at Oxford High School as an instance of how proper pathways and crossings are critical in times of crisis. Oxford, she noted, didn’t have sidewalk or designated pedestrian crossing areas, only an eight-lane road, which made it a challenge for both students and emergency services.
“Tragedies and moments of chaos,” she added, “highlight the importance of creating safe pathways for students.”
This endeavor is a great resource for connecting not just the schools, but the Village as a whole. The Pinckney Recreation Area is known for its extensive trail system, with over forty miles of multi-use pathways, campsites, and beaches. The plan for renovation includes connecting two schools, several subdivisions, Main Street, and the Lakelands Trail.
Chuck Dennison of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said he was very pleased with the proposed renovations, as the connection allows for not only a physical bridging of the community, but a social one. While safety is a primary concern, he said the expansion also has the potential to bolster community health and recreational habits.
Pinckney Chief of Police Jeff Newton also thanked Congresswoman Slotkin, stating that “Coordinated group efforts like these aren’t seen enough.”
Slotkin went on to describe how the allocation of these funds to local community projects is a perfect illustration of how government is supposed to work, saying that all too often financial entanglements between the state and federal levels prevent communities from getting the financial resources they need.
“We made a conscious decision to focus on the local level,” the Congresswoman shared in a GIGO News exclusive. “Local leaders are often in the best position to know what needs to be done in their communities. ”
While the estimated arrival time for these funds is still unspecified, Slotkin assured leaders that the funding would be accessible within a few months, a promising start to an ambitious and crucial endeavor.