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Collecting the Cup for Ironwood from left are Community Development Director Michael Brown, Mayor Kim Corcoran, Mayor Pro Tem Rick Semo, Clerk Karen Gullan and City Manager Scott Erickson. For more photos go here.DETROIT, Michigan – The community of Ironwood, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was honored with the Michigan Municipal League’s 2013 Community Excellence Award on Sept. 20, 2013, at the League’s Annual Convention in Detroit.
The peer-nominated Community Excellence Award (CEA), affectionately called “The Race for the Cup,” was started by the League in 2007 to recognize innovative solutions taking place in Michigan’s cities, villages and urban townships. It’s the highest and most prestigious award bestowed by the statewide League.The city of Ironwood’s placemaking effort is centered on the revitalization of a railroad depot into a park. The plan is to merge city blocks, add a pavilion, playground equipment, landscaping, volleyball courts, and other amenities in an effort to promote health, history, and recreation. The park will also serve as a trailhead for non-motorized and motorized trails crossing the region.Ironwood Mayor Kim Corcoran accepted the award, which includes a large trophy and statewide recognition, on the city’s behalf. In the seven-year history of the CEA competition, Ironwood is the first recipient from the state’s Upper Peninsula, which encompasses the League’s Region 7. Ironwood is located on the Michigan-Wisconsin border in the western portion of the state’s U.P.“I was very happily surprised for our community to win the Cup,” Corcoran said. “I was thinking we were a small community and I didn’t know if we stood a chance on getting this, but it’s a very big deal for us. This award helps put us on the map – from the PR we get from this and for our project. It shows what our community has to offer. We believe the positive recognition of receiving this award will increase awareness of the great things that Ironwood and the U.P. have to offer.”Ironwood competed for the statewide title against finalists from the League’s six other regions: Region 1 Fenton, Holly, & Linden’s Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail; Region 2 St. Joseph’s Silver Beach development; Region 3 Belding’s community garden; Region 4 DeWitt’s Community Showcase; Region 5 Imlay City’s SEED Economic Gardening program; and Region 6 Rogers City’s Placemaking: Dancin’ Downtown.Summaries of the seven finalist projects are pasted below and can be found online here.For past CEA winners, click here. For photos of the CEA winners go to this Michigan Municipal League “Award Winners and Appointments” set on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michigancommunities/sets/72157635396981216/. Photos can be downloaded from the League’s flickr page for free. We just ask that the following photo credit be given: Photo Courtesy of the Michigan Municipal League/mml.org.Matt Bach is media relations director for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (734) 669-6317.
Congratulations to Grand Rapids Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong who was honored with the MLGMA Patriarch Award at the Colloquium.The session topic was Lean Urbanism for Local Government featuring Andrés Duany, co-founder of the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) and a pioneer in urban planning for the 21st century. Here are some of the highlights of his speech:Duany on his 5.5 hour tour of Detroit, his fourth over a series of years starting in the late 1990s: “It’s absolutely eating my brain and blowing my mind.” The prior three tours displayed the “misery of Detroit” he said. Woodward Avenue is now “full of wonder and good potential,” he said. It’s bigger and cooler than Atlanta or Raleigh, he said, and those are champions of success.So why is our perception so negative? Here’s what Duany says: If you only look at the numbers, the picture is dismal. But when you look at the restaurants and shops and people moving in, it’s tremendously successful. So maybe we are measuring the wrong things.Other highlights from Duany’s presentation:When it comes to planning for the future, be clear on what you can’t do. We need to be realistic in our goals, he said. The more realistic you are, the more credible you get. What happened to our cities: 1. Interstate system made it easy for people to live in the suburbs and come into the city to use the amenities. 2. The VA/FHA post-war loans were only for new housing. 3. Racism, redlining, blockbusting isolated the poor. Poverty has always been with us. That’s not the problem, he said. What harmed cities were concentrations of poverty. The car permitted that segregation. 4. Planners of the 1960s attempted to compete with the suburbs by suburbanizing the cities – making them for cars not people, destroying street life and ruining what made cities worth living in. Too many downtown codes are tailored for suburbs, making it difficult if not impossible to do what is good for an urban setting. That’s why form-based codes make sense.In today’s world, cities aren’t competing against each other. Cities are competing against their own suburbs (in Michigan's case, typically that means the townships). Look at your city from the outside and see what can be done to equalize the choice for developers.It’s not enough to not have crime. You have to have the perception of not having crime. Broken windows, lack of maintenance, chain-link fences, abandoned buildings all “tell” people a place is unsafe.On why “the world is vibrating with excitement for Detroit”: Every revitalization of a decayed place, from the Left Bank of Paris forward, is led by the urban pioneers who have made it “cool” – they are the risk-oblivious: the young, the artists, and the gays. The risk-aware follow – the developers. Then the risk-averse – “the dentist from New Jersey” comes in and drives out the cool. It’s inevitable, he said. So wind back the bureaucracy, he said, to avoid exterminating the pioneer and the small developer, and to allow the young and creative to act. That's what tactical and lean urbanism are all about.
Welcome to the Michigan Municipal League 2013 Convention in Detroit!The first day officially began with the Welcome General Session on Wednesday morning, featuring the ever-popular Parade of Flags and the welcoming words of League President David Lossing and Detroit City Council President Saunteel Jenkins, who described the Convention as “an opportunity to learn from each other, exchange ideas and build resources” that will hopefully continue on long after the Convention as we all work together for a better Michigan. The week is also a great chance to “see Detroit as it is, not as it’s reported to be,” said Jenkins.Today’s food truck lunch at Milliken Park on the riverfront was a perfect example, as municipal officials from around the state got to sample the wares of this exciting new entrepreneurial placemaking trend that is sweeping the nation.And of course, the best part of the Welcome General Session every year is the long-awaited presentations of the Community Excellence Award nominees. You would have to have been here to get the full impact of these incredible showstoppers but here’s what they were about:Region 1Fenton, Holly, & Linden—Shiawassee River Heritage Water TrailThe Shiawassee River Heritage Water has seen increased recreational activity on the Shiawassee River over the last decade through intergovernmental and public partnership efforts including promotional signs in Holly, Fenton, Linden, and Argentine and Holly Townships; mile markers along the river to inform paddlers of their location, promotional brochures, annual cleanups, canoe and kayak races from Holly to Fenton, and moonlight paddle events.Region 2St. Joseph—Silver Beach DevelopmentFor many decades vacant property and antiquated industrial buildings dotted the city's lakefront. In 2006, the Silver Beach Committee was formed to acquire the property. After seven years of planning and over $8,200,000 in fundraising, the community christened Silver Beach in 2010, which includes the Silver Beach Carousel, the Curious Kids' Discovery Zone, and Michigan's largest interactive water fountain. Region 3 Belding—Community GardenThe Community Garden Group, in affiliation with Belding Area Schools and the city of Belding, built the Belding Community Garden in the spring of 2012. The garden is accessible to all residents of Belding and surrounding areas. It provides social, educational, and nutritional opportunities to those who may not otherwise have accessRegion 4DeWitt—Community ShowcaseThe 1st Annual 2012 DeWitt Community Showcase was held in April of 2012 at the DeWitt High School, a collaboration of the city of DeWitt, DeWitt Township, and DeWitt Public Schools. The free event included a “Taste of DeWitt,” student art pieces, student performances, and exhibits by over 100 area businesses and civic groups. The event was attended by well over 2,000 residents.Region 5Imlay City—SEED Economic GardeningIn 2010, Imlay City began developing a strategy to foster economic development. The city came up with the SEED Group to foster economic gardening a plan focused on small businesses, entrepreneurs, and overall economic development. Imlay City supports business growth and entrepreneurship through continuous networking events, entrepreneur meet ups, educational workshops, and more. Region 6Rogers City—Placemaking: Dancin’ DowntownIn 2012, Rogers City upgraded its streetscape with sophisticated new LED lighting, new ADA ramps, new flower baskets, way-finding signage, and other amenities including a new Museum Annex, new recreational trails and pocket parks, several new library programs, and two new public art projects. As many as 100 new jobs in a city of 2,782 people are being created via new cooperative economic development efforts between city and county governments and private businesses. Region 7Ironwood—Depot Park RevitalizationThe city of Ironwood’s placemaking effort is centered on the revitalization of a railroad depot into a park. The plan is to merge city blocks, add a pavilion, playground equipment, landscaping, volleyball courts, and other amenities in an effort to promote health, history, and recreation. The park will also serve as a trail head for non-motorized trails crossing the region.
Here's a quick peek at the seven CEA winners from the Regional Roundtables:
Region 1- Linden/Holly/Fenton's Shiawassee River Heritage Water TrailRegion 2 - St. Joseph's Silver Beach DevelopmentRegion 3 - Belding's Community GardenRegion 4 - DeWitt's Community ShowcaseRegion 5 - Imlay City's Economic GardeningRegion 6 - Rogers City's Dancin' DowntownRegion 7 - Ironwood's Depot Park. More details coming soon! Congrats to ALL our fantastic entries!
Every region had outstanding projects to offer, each one of them worthy of a win. Here are the other entries, which you'll hear more about next week on the League's new Placemaking blog:
Rochester - Main Street Makeover
Eastpointe - Service line Affordable Protection Program (SLAPP)New Baltimore - "Make New Baltimore Your Destination"Plymouth - Northville Plymouth Fire Agreement
Grosse Pointe - Wellness Center and Patient Facility
Westland - Core Shopping/Dining District
South Haven - Kal Haven Trail Extension and Williams Street Reconstruction
Albion - Crowell School
Bridgman, Baroda, Berrien Springs - 3B's Agri-tourism Ignition Effort
Whitehall - Bioswales and Trails
Mt Pleasant - Access Adventure Trail
Ithaca - Ithaca Unit of the Graiot Co Sheriff's Office
Harbor Beach - Interpretive Sign Project
Ontonagon - Complete Streets
Sault Ste Marie - Historic Water Street
Representatives from the seven region finalists for the 2013 Community Excellence Awards. From left: Linden Mayor David Lossing (Region 1); Rogers City Manager Mark Slown (Region 6); Belding Councilmember Andrea Belding (Region 3); DeWitt City Manager Daniel Coss (Region 4); Imlay City Mayor Margaret Guerrero (Region 5); St. Joseph Mayor Robert Judd (Region 2); and Ironwood Mayor Kim Corcoran (Region 7).
Senator Roger Kahn and Mike Nystrom of MI-TA will talk transportation at the Michigan Municipal League's 2013 Capital Conference.LANSING, Michigan - Several experts on Michigan's transportation situation willl participate in the "Getting Tough on Transportation" education session at the Michigan Municipal League's 2013 Capital Conference April 10.Farmington Hills City Manager Steve Brock, a member of the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees, will moderate the session featuring Bill Hamilton, analyst for the House Fiscal Agency; Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw, and Senate Appropriations Chair; Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association; and Rep. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City and chair of the House transportation committee.This is a very timely education session, because transportation funding continues to be at the top of the Michigan Municipal League’s legislative priority list for 2013. The discussion will focus on options for transportation funding, multi-modal transportation, and the importance of transportation in placemaking.View the full Capital Conference agenda and register here. Also speaking at this year's Conference are Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan Budget Director John Nixon, Mitch Bean and Eric Lupher; and John Porcari, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation. View all the speakers.Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at email@example.com and (734) 669-6317.
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