This month when Delhi Charter Township and McKenna receive Michigan’s top transportation planning award for the Realize Cedar Urban Design Framework, literally thousands of residents and other stakeholders will share in the honor.
That’s because the Township and McKenna planners recognized from the start of this landmark project that the more people who were part of the work, the more successful the plan would be.
The concept behind the project was to ensure that Cedar Street, the major connector between downtown Lansing and bedroom community Mason, realizes its potential as a vibrant, livable, walkable and sustainable community asset. With that goal in mind, over the last decade, Delhi Township’s Downtown Development Authority acquired several strategic parcels with an eye toward developing a walkable downtown. McKenna planners worked with the DDA to coordinate with residents, business groups and local agencies to make them aware of the DDA’s redevelopment efforts and create a plan for Cedar that could bring the vision to life.
“We saw extreme value in relying on organizations like the Ingham County Road Commission to approve rights-of-way designs and the Holt Business Alliance to endorse the ideas from the business perspective,” said McKenna planner Paul Lippens, AICP “To make sure there were no last-minute surprises, we sought input early and often.“
But that was just part of the outreach. McKenna planners “blitzed” the Delhi stakeholders, from local business owners to residents to young students and senior citizens who cherish nonmotorized transportation options. The team held field days on local trails, installed digital kiosks, visited schools and sporting events, displayed exhibits at summer concerts and the farmers marketn and rolled out a robust online campaign and project website. By the end of public engagement, the project team had a deep grasp on the community’s concerns and aspirations and plenty of ideas on how the framework could address core issues.
As a result, the final plan included special features such as a bike lane, on street parking, signal improvements, and upgraded streetscape amenities. Delhi leaders wasted no time in implementing Realize Cedar – a six-million-dollar roadway reconstruction project is planned for construction in the spring of 2018 and on August 30, 2017, the DDA announced the Esker Square development proposal for a mixed-use building with 60 residential units and 14 commercial spaces.
But no doubt one of the most impressive features of the Realize Cedar Urban Design Framework was the widespread support it received and the praise it won the Delhi Charter Township planning team. Realize Cedar’s recognition by the Michigan Association of Planning is a testament not only to superior transportation planning, but the value of early and widespread public input on transportation planning.