Yesterday was a “snow” day, with most schools closed and many people hunkered down in their homes, but for me and some of my colleagues, it was a day to put on the long underwear along with the hiking boots, and venture out to Lathrup Village. As part of our Center for 21st Century Communities program, Lathrup Village was chosen as one of our 5 pilot communities to focus on one of the 8 assets where they would like to see improvement. They chose walkability and design. Like too many communities, Lathrup Village finds that a major roadway is both a benefit and a challenge. Southfield Road, a 5 lane thoroughfare, is viewed by many to split the community - an impediment to walkability. Their vision is to create a Center City, and literally transform their town into a more vibrant, walkable community. So we invited Dan Burden, a world-renown walkability expert, to visit Michigan this week. (In addition to Lathrup Village, he also conducted a walkable audit in Linden on Monday and Lapeer on Tuesday.) Dan, who never lets a little snow, wind and cold stand in his way, led a group of enthusiastic community stakeholders, including a representative from the County Road Commission and the city’s planning consultant, on a tour to assess what needs to be done to make it a more pedestrian friendly community that will create new businesses and allow for more connectivity among the residents. We trekked up and down Southfield Road, while Dan measured sidewalks, risked his life standing in the middle of an intersection to illustrate a point, and highlighted the good, bad and the ugly. After thawing out and a warm lunch, Dan integrated photos from the tour into a PowerPoint, presenting his thoughts and ideas on what would make the city’s vision become a reality. Today, a more detailed follow-up session is taking place between Dan and the stakeholders. Stay tuned for future updates as Lathrup Village makes the journey towards a 21st century community!
- Register for Burden's workshop, Friday, Feb.12 in Lansing.
- Facebook photos of Burden’s Lathrup Village visit.
- Facebook photos of Burden’s Lapeer visit.
- Flickr photos of Burden’s Linden visit.
Colleen Layton is director of policy development for the Michigan Municipal League. She can be reached at 734.669.6320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.