ALPENA - The City of Alpena was one of five Michigan communities to be included in MyPlace PlaceMaking Technical Assistance Opportunity, which will gather input from people in the community to have a community plaza designed for downtown.
The study and planning derived from the recent branding effort and according to interim City Manager Greg Sundin there are several public input sessions on tap, with the first on Nov. 13 and several other to be scheduled. During the sessions, the people in charge of the project will explain the process, begin to take suggestions and address concerns before moving on to a more involved stage of the creation of the plaza.
"This is going to be a public-driven project and myself and the city staff is just going to step back and let them take the lead on it," Sundin said. "People will be able to give suggestions and they will incorporate them in the draft drawings and then they will take everything that has been shared and down the road they will present the final plan and give us recommendations on how to seek out funding."
Sundin said there was a meeting last week with those involved that included a tour of downtown and nearby parks to give the planners an idea of possible locations. The stops the group made were in the parking lot near the farmers market, along South Riverfront Park, down to Culligan Plaza and around the downtown business district. Sundin said there are a number of spots a plaza could be built, but it will depend on what it will consist of, and having it centrally located near downtown is essential.
"There is not a location selected yet. Some people think it is already a done deal to have it behind the Owl Cafe where the parking lot is, but they looked at several different places and will make a recommendation," Sundin said. "You need to have it where all the businesses are going to have a direct benefit from it so you don't want it to be isolated."
Sundin said the session on Nov. 13 will begin with snacks and beverages at the Art in the Loft and the group will release more information detailing future sessions and plans. Sundin said he hopes for a good turnout at the first session because public input is important to what the plaza will consist of.
"I don't know how many people will show up, but I hope to get more than 100," Sundin said. "If more than that show up then we will know we will need to get a larger facility for the next ones, but we want as many people to take part in this as we can get. It doesn't have to be only people from the city or just the business owners. It can be people from further out in the county, or even people from out of town that like to come to Alpena and have an interest on how it should be. It is going to be important to get the opinions of everyone."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.