The Election is Over, Your Work has Just Begun
Priorities and Projects
Congratulations to last night’s winners for the Traverse City City Commission and mayoral seat. As many of you already know, the winners are incumbents Barbara Budros and Jim Carruthers, former planning commissioner Jeanine Easterday, and former mayor Michael Estes returning for another round. *
In an interview with the Record Eagle last night (RE), the new mayor mentioned he will be creating a list of priorities. This is a grand idea and one that we need to help him form–representation is a partnership and here at MyWHaT we believe in full engagement whether invited or not. Mayor Estes’ list includes increasing infrastructure spending and moving forward with the bayfront plan; both fine, broad goals. But, what else?
Off of the top of my head:
- MDOT Roads in the City: Both professional plans and citizen recommendations for Division St. and Grandview Parkway have been produced in the last 2 years. We need leadership from the commission to direct staff to make them happen. Focusing on the intersections is the recommended measure to calm those beasts. Instead of wasting staff time on a $3-million tunnel, we need to see an application for a massive TIGER grant to design and build some modern roundabouts.
- Complete Streets Design Guidelines: Yes, Traverse City has moved forward with a Complete Streets resolution and is beginning to address the car culture that sees no issue buzzing people while they walk across a crosswalk, but we need to do more. For all of the talk about increasing expenditures on infrastructure, there still remains a disconnect in the process for almost every street reconstruction–sidewalks on both sides or, at all? Bike lanes, or are fog lines ok? Where does parking policy fit in? How do we implement Green Streets into the planning? Let’s set a mission, make a plan and stick to it.
- The Bayfront: Clarify the process and stop penny-pinching. The City is attempting to build something that attracts people for the next 50 years and each year we delay we increase the cost and increase the likelihood of inaction. We also risk losing the enthusiasm that so many people brought to the project in the Spring of 2010. We have a good plan that needs attention to detail.
- Energy Conservation: Not something I often talk about, but since Traverse City Light and Power will certainly become a topic in the next two years, the City Commission needs to accept, promote and encourage energy conservation as an energy solution. The City has started it with the TC Saves program. Let’s find ways to expand it.
- No New Roads: In a time when we are struggling to find money to rebuild & maintain the streets we have, it is ludicrous to be building more without a specific, broad, multi-use intention of return. There is a case to be made for the newly opened South Campus entrance, but the dream that has become of the West Boardman Lake Avenue is past its prime. If it is simply intended as a bypass around one street, it is not worth the investment. 30 years ago the plan called for an extension of the City; now, we are left with a speedway overlooking a beautiful Lake. If we have a traffic volume problem, we need to reduce the traffic not shift the problem elsewhere. And, if where we can’t reduce automobile traffic, we need to calm it.
- Treat Parks and Recreation as Investments: Economic resilience is not simply the domain of the Chambers of Commerce, communities that invest in public parks and public services (like Hickory Hills) see return on investments in increased property values, but also by becoming places that attract new businesses and new economic and social investments–people choose to live here and choose to stay.
What does the City need to focus on in the next two (or 5) years?
* I believe we now have a full commission that uses email–welcome to 2011 everyone! So, don’t hesitate to give them a note from time to time.
- “Jim Carruthers” <email@example.com>
- “Jeanine Easterday” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- “Barbara Budros” <email@example.com>
- “Michael Estes” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- “Jody Bergman” <email@example.com>
- “Michael Gillman” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- “Mary Ann Moore” <email@example.com>