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Capital Conference 2014 Photos Now Available on Michigan Municipal League Flickr Page

clock March 26, 2014 12:04 by author Matt Bach

Check out photos from the 2014 Michigan Municipal League Capital Conference here. Check out all the media coverage from Capital Conference.

Did we take your photo at the 2014 Michigan Municipal League Capital Conference (March 18-19, 2014)? Find out by viewing the more than 200 photos that League has posted on our flickr page at flickr.com/michigancommunities. Feel free to download the photos using the photo credit: "flickr photo by Michigan Municipal League/mml.org".

More than 500 municipal leaders from throughout Michigan attended the conference in Lansing. The officials representing Michigan’s cities, villages and urban townships attended education sessions on an array of topics, including revenue sharing, the personal property tax, crowdfunding, transportation, talent in place, municipal funding and many other issues.

This year's conference focused on the how thriving communities are critical to Michigan’s long-term success and sustainability. Specifically, the conference was structured around the League’s Partnership for Place policy agenda. This agenda, approved by the League board in summer of 2013, proposes a partnership of action between the State and its municipalities to facilitate economic growth and develop places with a high quality of life, while using a regional approach to services, resources, and systems. The conference informed members about how this proactive policy agenda will help drive the future for Michigan communities in the key areas of municipal funding, transportation, talent retention, infrastructure, and development.

Keynote speakers included League President Jacqueline Noonan, mayor of Utica; Lt. Gov. Brian Calley; Salt Lake City Utah Mayor Ralph Becker; John Norquist, president and CEO of the Congress for New Urbanism; and the League’s advocacy team – Samantha Harkins, Nicole Brown, John LaMacchia, and Summer Minnick. Multiple awards and honors were also given out during the event including outstanding service awards to the City of Midland, Chris Miller of Adrian; West Branch City Manager Tom Youatt and former Portland City Manager Tom Dempsey. View a press release about the Oustanding Service Award recipients.

In addition, the seven regional winners of the League's annual Community Excellence Award program were selected. The winners, now going on to compete for the statewide title at the League's Convention in October in Marquette are: Region 1: Fenton; Region 2: A group of six Lansing area jurisdictions; Region 3: Grandville; Region 4: Ithaca; Region 5: Harbor Beach; Region 6: Cadillac; and Region 7: Gladstone. Read a press release about the regional CEA winners.

Check out all the media coverage from Capital Conference.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at (734) 669-6317 anbd mbach@mml.org.

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Seven Michigan Communities to Compete for Statewide League Community Excellence Award

clock March 19, 2014 14:56 by author Matt Bach


Representatives from the seven regional winners!

Seven Michigan communities have been selected as finalists for the 2014 Michigan Municipal League Community Excellence Award (CEA) competition, affectionately known as the “Race for the Cup.”

The seven communities were selected by their peers in regional meetings Tuesday, March 18, during the League’s 2014 Capital Conference in Lansing. All seven will now compete in for the statewide CEA title Oct. 14-17, 2014, in Marquette during the League’s Annual Convention. The seven selected communities are from Region 1: Fenton; Region 2: a joint project by Lansing, East Lansing and the townships of Lansing, Meridian, Delta and Delhi; Region 3: Grandville; Region 4: Ithaca; Region 5: Harbor Beach; Region 6: Cadillac and Region 7: Gladstone. Stay tuned to this blog for additional details on the winners and other communities that competed: http://www.mml.org/events/blog/.

Matt Bach is director of media relations for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at mbach@mml.org.

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Ironwood Railroad Depot Park Wins League’s 2013 Community Excellence Award at Convention

clock September 21, 2013 21:48 by author Matt Bach


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 mbach@mml.org and (734) 669-6317.

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MLGMA Colloquium Honors Grand Rapids Deputy City Mgr Eric DeLong, Features Andres Duany on Lean Urbanism

clock September 19, 2013 16:23 by author Elizabeth Shaw

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.


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League Convention 2013 Opens with Community Excellence Presentations, Parade of Flags

clock September 18, 2013 14:24 by author Elizabeth Shaw

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 1
Fenton, Holly, & Linden—Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail
The 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 2
St. Joseph—Silver Beach Development
For 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 Garden
The 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 access
Region 4
DeWitt—Community Showcase
The 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 5
Imlay City—SEED Economic Gardening
In 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 6
Rogers City—Placemaking: Dancin’ Downtown
In 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 7
Ironwood—Depot Park Revitalization
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 trail head for non-motorized trails crossing the region.




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