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Press Release

Matt Bach, Director of Media Relations
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317;


Ironwood Railroad Depot Park Project Wins Michigan Municipal League’s 2013 Community Excellence Award

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: 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/

Regional finalists in more detail:

Region 1
Fenton, Holly, & Linden—Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail

The Shiawassee River Heritage Water Trail represents intergovernmental cooperation, recreational opportunities, and economic development. Spearheaded by Headwaters Trails, Inc., and supported by Keepers of the Shiawassee, we have seen increased recreational activity on the Shiawassee River over the last decade. A series of 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, moonlight paddle events, and many more activities have all led to increased usage of the river system by local residents and visitors.

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 and create a "WOW" factor. On January 2, 2010, after seven years of planning and fundraising, the community christened Silver Beach which includes the Silver Beach Carousel, the Curious Kids' Discovery Zone, and Michigan's largest interactive water fountain. Thanks to the generosity of the community, Whirlpool, and several local families, more than $8.2 million was raised to privately fund the project. Today, Silver Beach Center is a mecca for tourists and locals who want to create memories.

Region 3
Belding—Community Garden

In June of 2010, the “idea seed” was planted to start a community garden in Belding. The Community Garden Group, in affiliation with Belding Area Schools and the city of Belding, built the 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. At every level the garden is truly “community”—from resident/family, school spaces, and a food pantry garden—everyone has a space to come sow, plant, and harvest!

Region 4
DeWitt—Community Showcase

The 1st Annual 2012 DeWitt Community Showcase was held in DeWitt in April of 2012. This event is the true definition of collaboration in the finest form. The event featured the collaboration of three different jurisdictions: the city of DeWitt, DeWitt Township, and DeWitt Public Schools. The event was held at the DeWitt High School and was an exposé for area businesses, students, and community civic groups to show off to the community what they had to offer. The event was free for all that participated and featured 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 the process for developing a strategy to foster economic development. The city came up with a plan focused on these key areas: small businesses, entrepreneurs, and overall economic development. Thus was born the SEED Group to foster economic gardening. Imlay City supports business growth and entrepreneurship through continuous networking events, entrepreneur meet ups, educational workshops, and more. These fledgling entrepreneurs are positioning themselves to create jobs and foster a sustainable community that will continue to be a desirable place for citizens.

Region 6
Rogers City—Placemaking: Dancin’ Downtown

In 2012, many exciting new businesses opened in Rogers City utilizing approximately 10 percent of existing store fronts and buildings. The streetscape has been upgraded with sophisticated new LED lighting, new ADA ramps, new flower baskets, way-finding signage, and other amenities. Not only is the downtown more beautiful, but it is coming alive with activities: 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. Social life is groovin' and growing in Rogers City!

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.


Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.




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