Action Alert: Bayfront Plan in Need of 11th Hour YIMBY Input
UPDATE: 4pm, 11/17- Correction, the City Commission will consider the 2012 Clinch Park plan at their November 28 study session. Formal action on the park design by the City Commission may occur on December 5. Still, between now and then they need to hear from people who want something great, not merely adequate.
Help support bold progress for the Bayfront Plan
In the last decade area citizens have been asked to dream big about our community. Perhaps we can blame it on the national press the area receives (or, perhaps it is something in the water), but when area residents are asked to vision, like they were for the Grand Vision as well as the original Your Bay, Your Say, they dream big. In both of the above cases, they did so in large numbers.
Traverse City’s waterfront has come a long way. Growing up here over the last 39 years I’ve seen surprising transformations. That there really used to be a working coal plant right downtown on West Bay remains difficult to believe.
Still, the waterfront has a lot more potential. It can be an expression of the community’s commitment to protecting and connecting to the water. As JRW likes to say, “Michigan…It’s the Water!” and nowhere should that be more of the case than in Traverse City. Currently, we are separated from it by an aggressive highway and, in the case of Clinch Park, a space that does little to capture people’s imaginations. It is a place to pass through, not linger.
The Your Bay, Your Say and last year’s Bayfront Planning process were the latest attempts to remedy that situation. Planning is important and there has been plenty. Unfortunately, we continue to have reluctant City Commissioners who are unable or unwilling to take bold actions when needed to implement those plans.
Each member of the current City Commission has somewhere along the way said that the Bayfront is a priority. They have also voted at least 3 times in the last year to move forward with a vision for excellence. They have done so because it makes economic sense for a city celebrated for its high quality of life to invest in its most visible public spaces. They have also done so because they know the countless hours and energy that hundreds, if not thousands, have given to the cause over the last 5,10, 20 years.
Moving Forward with the 2012 Bayfront Construction
Last spring an RFP went out for a first phase centered around the eastern edge of Clinch Park. This is the most coveted part of the park. It is the area where the majority of activity wants to take place; people gravitate towards the water’s edge. The firm hired for this phase produced an adaptation based off of the 2010 plan as expected. A sub-committee consisting of 3 Parks and Recreation Commissioners (myself included) and anywhere from 4-6 City staff members worked with them over the summer to approve a design recommended by the Parks and Recreation Commission for review by the Planning Commission and finally the City Commission. The latter needs to sign off before construction begins. Their next opportunity will be at their
November 21st November 28th meeting.
It has been a difficult summer concerning the plan. The majority of the voices that the city has heard lately have been extremely negative in tone and extremely short-sighted in the level of investment required to honor the public process. Apparently it is working, as one City Commissioner has even expressed that perhaps the entire plan be scraped and that the City start over with a smaller expectations. As an appointed advisor to the City, I strongly recommend the opposite. This is the time to be raising the expectations, not taking them backward.
This is no time for small thinking and cold feet; the City Commission needs a reminder of the support they have for being brave. Please, email City Commissioners before their next meeting and remind them to be bold, visionary and inventive.
After starting with $0 last year, the City has $1.3 million dollars pledged to phase 1 at Clinch Park (note: phase 1 does not include all of what is shown above). Over $400,000 is from private, local donors committed to the 2010 Bayfront project. There is also $480,000 from the Natural Resources Trust Fund that is matched by the Traverse City DDA. With just under a year to go, we are short anywhere from $375,000 to design/construct new bathrooms or up to $2-mil if we attempt to do something more special in 2012.
With commitment and full engagement to the cause, I’m confident that our current City Commission can work with staff and other City boards to find a solution that honors the vision of the community for a newly imagined waterfront.
They need to be reminded that city residents support a project that is bold and that honors the effort put in over the last decade. Please send a brief, supportive message to that end.
As a former mayor once said about the Bayfront plan just before the 2010 planning:
“We can do something average, or something great.”
I prefer great. You?
There is now a MyWHaT email resource page, but for convenience below are the emails for City Commissioners, Planning Commissioners, and Parks and Recreation Commissioners. Please paste into the email as a BCC.
email@example.com, “Mary Ann Moore” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Jim Carruthers” <email@example.com>, “Jody Bergman” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Barbara Budros” <email@example.com>, “Michael Estes” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Jeanine Easterday” <email@example.com>, “Ben Bifoss” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Russ Soyring” <email@example.com>, “Andy Andres” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Jody Bergman” <email@example.com>, “Jennifer Jaffe” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, “Mary Ann Moore” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,“Lauren Vaughn” <LVaughn@ci.traverse-city.mi.us>, “Missy Luick” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Keedanlex@gmail.com” <email@example.com>, “Brian Haas” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Traverse City Parks” <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org, “Arianne Petersen” <email@example.com>, “Robert Cole” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Sheila Dodge” <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>