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Murch: Placing value on quality of life in our communities

March 9, 2012
Steve Murch - Managing Editor , The Alpena News

Why do you live where you do? Not your house or apartment, but your community. Is it strictly because of your job? Is it because of family? Is it a combination?

Likely it's a combination. Regardless of the major reason or reasons, you've probably weighed the other options - the ones that go toward quality of life. Everyone has their own checklist, whether they acknowledge it or subconsciously are directed by it. Factors include quality education, health care, amenities; taking Alpena as an example we can add the waterfront, natural resources, and an abundance of recreational pursuits.

One of my favorite things, which I've stated before, is to eat my lunch down at Mich-e-ke-wis Park by the water and read before coming to the office. It's a nice park - and there's the water popping up for the second time (might become a theme).

As coincidence would have it on Friday I was down there reading prior to work and I was reading the March/April edition of The Review, which is published by the Michigan Municipal League. The magazine is always chock full of things communities are doing to make them better places to live - there's quality of life again.

One of the stories in this issue is on parks and recreation. The story focuses on voters in four different places were asked to support millage requests for parks and recreation in 2010. The City of Lansing, and Oakland, St. Clair and Saginaw counties all had ballot proposals for funding of parks. While I would argue that Lansing and the counties aren't entirely the same because the counties all have individual communities as well, there still were millages for recreation.

Lansing voters approved one mill for 114 parks (including three cemeteries, one municipal golf course, four community centers, two outdoor and one indoor swimming pool, an artificial ice rink, nature center and Turner Dodge historic home). They didn't just approve, it passed with 73 percent saying yes. The people of Lansing viewed this quality of life asset quite important.

Oakland County had a 0.245 mill request; St. Clair a 0.4954 mill request; and Saginaw a 0.1615 mill request. The parks and facilities vary by county, but in all three instances parks were deemed important.

Alpena County passed a youth and recreation millage, that while not exactly the same funding purpose, showed the importance residents place on this kind of quality of life factor.

Stick just with the city, Alpena has 17 parks it manages and maintains. It has a bi-path system that makes its way around town and along the waterfront. Why? Simple, to make Alpena a better place to live and help provide the kind of quality of life the residents want.

I'd go one step further and say we need it.

Who wants to live in a place that is lifeless, has no energy, nor any place for residents to just enjoy life? And no, that's not describing a big city - have you been to New York's Central Park? You can get lost there. Every city has these kinds of urban oases.

Good communities - smart communities - place a priority on great places for their residents to enjoy life. These kinds of places factor into where we want to live. They might not be the top priority, or even be in the forethought, but they matter. Just think back to the last time you visited another community, did you notice the parks? I'll bet you did, even if you didn't make a big deal out of it.

i don't know about you, but I'm glad I live in a place that places quality of life as a priority.



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