Profiles in Partnership | Mike Tarnow

"We easily forget that once the trail is on the ground, there is ongoing maintenance forever."

Aspire North REALTORS® places a high value on our members who give back, particularly those who dedicate their time to support our Primary Non-Profit Partner, TART Trails. In that spirit, we wanted to shine a light on some of our members who are dedicated to supporting TART Trails and their mission! I recently had a chance to sit down with Mike Tarnow, a veteran appraiser, founder & co-owner of Northern Michigan Real Estate Consultants, a long-time member of Aspire North REALTORS® (TAAR), and TART Trails Board Member since 2008!

Aspire North: So, Mike, how long have you been involved with TART Trails and how did you first get involved?
It’s been, I think, a little over 10 years now. I am an avid Nordic skier and road cyclist. Initially, I was on the Vasa Race Board, and because the race is run on the VASA Trail — which is managed by TART — I became the liaison between the two boards. Eventually, I left the VASA Race Board and joined the TART Board, serving as a board member and on the Executive Committee as Executive Secretary.

Aspire North: Tell me about some of the projects you work on with TART.
There are a number of different projects that I work on. We have trail projects that involve working on the vasa trail, sometimes clearing brush and leveling trail. We also maintain the Leelanau Trail and many other trails around the area. My involvement is primarily out there, and I lead an Earth Day crew to clean up brush and trash along the trail. I have been involved with the Safety, Operations, and Maintenance Committee; planning and taking care of trail issues. We easily forget that once the trail is on the ground, there is ongoing maintenance forever. So, this is something that has become very important to me… that these trails be maintained so that everyone can continue enjoying them safely.

Aspire North: What are some upcoming TART Trails projects that you’re excited about?
There are a number of big projects that we should be talking about. The first is the completion of the Boardman Lake Loop. Construction will be starting again this spring on the west portion of the trail from roughly 14th Street to the college property, and the contract is being approved for the valance of the trail that will go around the south side of the lake and meet up with the East Trail at Medalie Park. We’re waiting for one more approval from Brownfield Funds on that. There’s the reconstruction of the TART Trail between Airport Access and Three Mile, and plans are in the works for the Three Mile Trail Project as part of the Safe Trails to School Program. We’re also working diligently for the first portion of the Nakwema Trail that will eventually go to Charlevoix. The first portion to be developed is an extension of the TART Trail to the Acme area. And just so we realize how very busy everybody at TART is, they’re also working on the last portion of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail at the North End of that and 6 more miles of trail there.

Aspire North: As a real estate professional, why is TART Trails such an important organization to support?
I’ve been a member of TAAR since the mid-1970s, and we’ve seen tremendous growth in our area over that time. One of the effects of that growth is increased traffic along with tourism. Promoting the trails gives a boon economically to the tourist industry because people do enjoy coming up here to use the trails. But, probably more important is the use of the trails by locals as transportation — to shopping, to work, for pleasure. And, as we’re reaching farther out and keeping trails open during the winter, we’re seeing significant year-round use for transportation.

Aspire North: How can others get involved?
At the website for Traverse Area Recreational Transportation Trails; I know there’s a button there for volunteering and making donations.

Michael Kent photo
Michael Kent
Communications & Marketing Director

As the Communications and Marketing Director, I oversee all the messaging and the manner in which it's delivered to our members.  This includes managing our weekly newsletter, social media presence, the members-only Facebook group, and our MLS Talk listserv.  With a background in visual arts, design, photography, and videography, I also help to develop original graphics, advertisements, and photo and video content.  If you're at one of our many events and see someone walking around with a camera, that's me!  As the unofficial tech guru of the office, I also work with staff to research and implement new technology and/or processes to better serve our members and reach them where they live, something that has become more important since the time of COVID.