By Benjamin J. Gohs
Boyne City has been chosen as one of seven municipalities across the state for help with a major economic development project.
City officials were notified late last week that Boyne will receive technical assistance from PlacePlans—a joint effort between the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and Michigan State University.
“We are very excited and proud to be selected to participate in this program,” stated Boyne City Manager Michael Cain in a Friday Jan. 30 e-mail to the Boyne City Gazette. “Through the PlacePlans program we will receive first class services which will help our community focus on what it would like to see for some of our key properties including Peninsula Beach Park, Sunset Park, the south end of Veterans Park and creating linkages between them.”
Qualified projects include those that are aimed at attracting and retaining residents and employers.
According to a Michigan Municipal League press release, post-dated Feb. 4, Boyne City’s project approval comes in the third round of PlacePlans funding.
“Boyne City’s waterfront along Lake Charlevoix is underutilized and properties are disconnected from each other and the downtown area,” the MML stated. “A coordinated design plan for Sunset Park and surrounding spaces would create attractive connections and paths to link parks, beaches, downtown businesses, and the historic walking tour.”
Boyne City will receive a combination of assistance which could include any of the following:
• Documentation of place-based assets and opportunities
• Development of a civic engagement and communications process to gather ideas and build support
• Conceptual designs for public space improvements design by university faculty and students
• Site designs and engineering developed by professional consultants
• Market analysis of residential and/or commercial demand and development opportunities
• Analysis of the parking and transportation system and possible modifications
• Recommendations for zoning and ordinance improvements
• Identification of funding opportunities for implementations, including crowd-funding
• Coordination with state agencies to identify fit with their strategic priorities
The reasons Boyne needs a PlacePlan, as listed by city officials in their letter of interest, are as follows:
• To collaborate with citizens and stakeholders
“As custodian of the publicly-owned land along the waterfront from State Street to Peninsula Beach, the city must engage with community members and stakeholders in the process of developing a vision for this area,” Cain stated in his Nov. 3, 2014 letter of interest. “To create such a collaborative blueprint, Boyne City needs a plan that identifies the public participation process, the area’s locations and physical features, reflects the community sentiment, as well as a process for incorporating these aspects into the planning and funding mechanisms of the city.”
• To create meaningful places
“Identifying both location and features to be incorporated into the public realm is paramount in any master planning process,” stated Cain. “Creating a master plan for this area would identify the places within the waterfront area that are most impactful. It would encourage the development of park projects and pathways that are interesting, accessible, and connective; providing traffic to recreational and historic areas and local businesses.”
He added, “It would encourage the placement of high-quality artwork and historical exhibits that are easily visible and accessible. The plan would seek to enrich the fabric of the city by creating delight and fascination as well as to enhance pedestrian environments and community gathering places.”
• To reinforce identity
“A collaborative master plan for this area would celebrate and accommodate the rich diversity of Boyne City,” Cain stated. “It would emphasize the creation and placement of features that are site-specific and unique to Boyne City and promote the natural beauty, history, heritage, culture and spirit of Boyne City’s overwhelming civic pride.”
He added, “The plan would encourage projects to be meaningful and engaging and could provide planning for signage and information that reinforce Boyne City as the welcoming, exciting place we know it to be.”
• Stimulate the economy
“The development of a master plan for this waterfront area would serve to showcase Boyne City as a destination of local, regional and national interest to foster and stimulate the local economy,” Cain Stated. “The plan would provide a tool to better integrate collaborative community projects, historic locations and public art installations with local and regional planning efforts and creates synergies and opportunities with architectural, landscape and infrastructure projects.”
He added, “Across the state, but especially in Northern Michigan, the emphasis is on recreational tourism as an economic driver.
According to Cain, jurisdictions that have embraced this emphasis have demonstrated that they can support economic growth as well as contribute to the quality of life.
In just three years, the MML has helped nearly two dozen Michigan communities with PlacePlans projects.
This year’s winners also include Benton Harbor, Lathrup Village, Monroe, Niles, Saginaw and Traverse City.
“The great thing about this PlacePlans program is it helps a community look at an under-utilized asset and puts it on the path toward becoming a community gem,” stated Michigan State Housing Development Authority Chief Placemaking Officer Gary Heidel, in the MML press release.
Anyone interested in more information or in participating in this process should contact Cain at (231) 582-0377 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.