Russ Soyring talks about walkability in Traverse City.
MONTAGUE, Michigan - Russ Soyring lives near downtown Traverse City and he loves being able to walk from his home to just about everything he needs. He explains it’s what a walkable community is all about.
“Within a five-block walk from my house I have the ability to walk to the bank, grocery store, my pick of three barbers - I pick cheapest one of those three. I can go to the hardware store, my work, a furniture store, restaurants, three bakeries - we even have a dog bakery.”
Soyring, Traverse City planning director, explained the steps taken to make his community pedestrian-friendly during the Michigan Municipal League’s 2010 Region 3 Education Seminar May 26 in Montague, Michigan. Having well-designed, walkable communities is one of eight assets identified by the League in having viable cities, villages and towns in its Center for 21st Century Communities program http://www.mml.org/resources/21c3/about.html.
Soyring said Traverse City has made the city more walkable in a number of ways, including changing ordinances and policies, narrowing street widths, narrowing cross-walks, adding park benches and trash cans, and encouraging more residential living in the downtown district.
“Nightlife picked up, pedestrian traffic picked up, since we’ve added 150 dwellings downtown,” Soyring said, adding the goal is to had 500 residential dwellings.
Also during the seminar were presentations by League Board President Jeff Jenks about the importance of being a League member, League CEO Dan Gilmartin; Henry Roesler, Mayor of Montague; Norma Rivas Ricci, of the U.S. Census Bureau; Arnold Weinfeld, director of state initiatives and federal affairs for the League; Summer Minnick, director of state affairs for the League; and Sean Mann, project manager of Let’s Save Michigan.
In addition, four West Michigan communities gave presentations in a spirited competition for the Region 3 honor for the League’s Community Excellence Award Program. The 40-plus people attending the Region meeting will vote on the four projects and the winner will go on to compete in the statewide CEA contest being awarded during the League’s annual Convention, Sept 21-24 in Dearborn. A post about the winner will be coming soon here.
Communities represented at the Region 3 meeting were Cedar Springs, Evart, Ferrysburg, Fremont, Grand Haven, Howard City, Kentwood, Ludington, Montague, New Era, North Muskegon, Norton Shores, Pentwater, Roosevelt Park, Rothbury, Shelby, Spring Lake, Whitehall and Zeeland. Region 3 represents the counties of Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola, and Ottawa.
Go here for details about upcoming regional meetings in Quincy, June 9; and Rogers City, June 4.
21c3 Blog posts on previous Regional meetings:
- Lapeer shows how to be walkable community (Region 5)
- Region 4 Seminar Focuses on Entrepreneurship
- Michigan Municipal League Region 1 Education Seminar/Meeting Focuses on 21c3 Asset – Multiculturalism
- Ishpeming Hosts Successful Region 7 Seminar
Matt Bach is communications director of the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (734) 929-8123.