HWPI Volunteer Spotlight: Larry Deck
We would like to introduce our April Volunteer of the Month, HWPI Board Member, Larry Deck. Larry has been a leader in creating trails and greenways in Michigan. He led the creation of, and chaired, the organization that has evolved into the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. He initiated and served as the Project Director of the Southeast Michigan Greenways Project, which developed a constituency and vision for an interconnected greenway system in southeast Michigan. Before leading these statewide and regional efforts, he co-founded and chaired, in the 1980s, the Friends of the Lakelands Trail, a group that has promoted the rail-trail between Hamburg and Jackson, one of the first rail-trails in Michigan.
Larry has been on the board of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition since 2008, an organization founded in 2001, whose goal is to make Washtenaw County a national leader in bicycling and walking. He served on the Greenways Advisory Committee of the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission from the time the Border-to-Border Trail concept was developed until the committee’s functions were absorbed by HWPI. He serves on the Transportation Coordinating Council of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), the city of Ann Arbor’s Alternative Transportation Committee, and the informal Ann Arbor Climate Partnership Working Group. He also served on the Technical Committee of the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS).
Larry has bicycled extensively for transportation and recreation in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan, the United States, and Europe. He has biked in all 83 Michigan counties, 22 states, and 11 countries, and through a series of several adjoining trips, has biked across the U.S. Larry and his wife take a multi-week bike trip most years, and they are anxious for the pandemic to lift so that they can resume their annual adventures.
Larry lives in Ann Arbor. He runs the Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon most years. Before embarking on consulting and volunteer activities regarding trails and greenways, he designed and wrote technical software. We are excited to have you on board, Larry!
HWPI Partner Spotlight: Peter Sanderson
HWPI is excited to spotlight B2B Trail Partner: Peter Sanderson – Principal Park Planner with Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission (WCPARC) and the project lead for much of the planning, design, and day-to-day B2B operations for the organization. A Licensed Landscape Architect with degrees from MSU and UM, Peter has worked for WCPARC since 2011.
Since the late 1990s, when the idea of the trail was conceived, WCPARC has been the lead public agency on the B2B project, working to form partnerships with other municipalities and organizations to plan, design, and construct the trail. Peter explains, “Partnerships are vital to the success of the trail and we are excited to be working with HWPI, which has expanded the definition, the reach, and expediency of the progress of the trail.”
“The trail is like a Swiss army knife,” states Sanderson, “its multifaceted nature lets it fulfill many different needs. It connects people from all walks of life together. The B2B links a host of destinations together while capitalizing on our area’s first-class parks system, the river, and natural areas. It promotes safety, while being both a transportation corridor and a recreational destination for anyone who wants to use the trail, whether they are a commuter, an elite runner, a person with mobility limitations, or a child learning to ride a bike.”
Peter is from Ann Arbor where he has spent most of his life and currently resides with his wife, Megan. He is an outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible biking, backpacking, running, competing in triathlons, paddling, and skiing.
Peter shares a story from this summer about an encounter he had on the B2B. “This summer, I had just finished a mountain bike ride at the DTE Trail in the Waterloo Recreation area and was riding the B2B back to the Green Lake Campground where my wife and I were camping for the weekend. When I got to the tunnel under M-52, which was 95% complete at the time, I came across a gentleman who was talking to our construction inspector, John. The man was in his late 70s and was not from the area but had driven out to ride his bike on the DTE trail, which he had heard was excellent. He realized that the mountain bike trail was too difficult for him but he was ecstatic to find the B2B just across the street, which he described as “just his speed!” It is satisfying to be able to meet the needs of so many members of the community and to see people using and enjoying the trail.”
Sanderson says, “The support and hard work provided by my colleagues at WCPARC, HWPI, our partners, and the community is invaluable. It is wonderful to be part of a team of dedicated people who are helping to make this project a reality!”
Thank you, Peter, for your tireless dedication to creating this amazing trail that provides access to the outdoors and builds community across Washtenaw County.
HWPI Volunteer Spotlight: Ken Fischer
We would like to introduce our August Volunteer of the Month, Ken Fischer. Ken is a husband, father, and grandfather who retired in 1987 after 30 years as president of the University Musical Society of the University of Michigan. Ken currently teaches Arts Leadership at U-M, does a bit of consulting, serves on a few boards, volunteers with various community organizations, and tries to keep up with his two pre-teen grandsons in the San Francisco Bay Area as much as possible.
Ken Fischer’s HWPI involvement came through his connection to Karen McKeachie. He first met Karen back in the 1960s when she was in intermediate school and he was in U-M grad school, moonlighting as her French horn teacher. His friendship with her and her family grew when he returned to Ann Arbor for the UMS job. Devastated by her tragic death in 2016 when she was cycling on the Dexter-Chelsea road, he wanted to do something that would both honor her and provide a safer way for cyclists and runners to train. When he learned that Karen’s Trail would be a part of the larger B2B effort, he wanted to get involved.
According to Ken, “I had no idea when I asked the B2B folks ‘What can I do to help?’ that I would come to know such an exceptionally dedicated, talented, savvy, and successful group of people determined to get the B2B trail built in record time. They recognize that to accomplish their — now our — goal we must work together with others, urging everyone to put their best effort forward for the benefit of our community. Our approach is working amazingly well. HWPI’s vision is for healthy, active, and connected communities. How can someone who believes as passionately as I do in ‘Everybody In, Nobody Out’ not be an enthusiastic volunteer with the B2B project that connects communities and will be welcoming to all for generations to come?”
Thank you, Ken, for your tremendous support of our work!
To see past honorees, please visit the HWPI Volunteer Spotlight History page.