In response to ‘Loving our busy, busy town’
I love guests and tourism, but I was one of the annoyed last month. Where the director saw dollar signs I saw danger and exclusion.
I was annoyed by the city’s lack of measures to ensure safe walkability and cycling in the downtown core and in accessing the city beaches. The exclusion I witnessed was at the BTF when handicap parking spaces were full and/or blocked. People needing mobility assistance had to walk long distances in high temperatures and humidity.
As someone who recently moved from a high tourism area I have seen the consequences of growth based on tourism, without appropriate infrastructures and safety policies in place. From my perspective, Alpena has unmet needs that need to be met if tourism is going to be successful and less annoying.
The first need is a parking structure. Secondly, the city needs to examine traffic safety controls and adopt ways to be more pedestrian-friendly and inclusive of people with disabilities, including a crosswalk ordinance. Alpena’s residents are aging and have mobility problems; those residents should not be excluded.
Third, there is a need for a plan to ensure affordable housing is available for service workers; they are who make the whole tourism thing work. Most will be paid minimum wage. There are some very dark consequences if a community waits or ignores housing infrastructure.
Finally, there needs to be enough living wage jobs to support families. I know that many in Alpena are and have been working on this monumental task for several years.
Before I can appreciate the goodness of the dollars rolling into the town on a busy tourist day, I need to feel that I am in a safe and inclusive community.