2016 August | Lansing State Journal Delhi Township Seeks Ideas, Vision to Boost Cedar Street
By Curt Smith, Lansing State Journal
DELHI TWP. – Have issues with Cedar Street? Traffic too crazy? Not enough convenient parking?
Township officials are paying attention and are beginning a process to look at how life along the busy thoroughfare can be improved.
Residents’ input will play a major part in the process, officials said.
“It’s not an engineering project,” said Tracy Miller, Delhi’s community development director. “It’s not a let’s-rebuild-the-road project.'"
“It’s ‘how do we develop a plan for redevelopment of the entire corridor as we move into the future?’”
Miller said a good hard look at Cedar Street has been part of the township’s master plan for some time, and last year, as decline along the corridor appeared to outpace progress, officials decided to take action.
Howard Haas, executive director of Delhi’s Downtown Authority, said his group has been helping to combat the problem, buying up blighted and "environmentally challenged" properties and preparing them for redevelopment.
A steering committee held its first meeting in November, and some $70,000 was set aside for McKenna Associates, a Northville-based community planning/economic development firm that will serve as a consultant.
“As a whole our community looks really good,” Miller said. “Cedar Street, parts of it, maybe not so much. It could be better.”
She said planners will review the entire roughly four mile stretch of Cedar Street, from East Willoughby Road to North College Road, with “a huge amount of the focus” on the roughly two miles between Willoughby and the roundabout, where the population is densest.
Miller poses this question: Can the average resident name five nonchain businesses on Cedar between Holt and Aurelius roads?
“Bet you can’t,” she said.
“It’s not that we don’t have cool businesses,” Miller said. “It’s that maybe people don’t know that they are there because the environment doesn’t support those businesses.”
The first step is focus meetings with key groups such as senior citizens, businesses and residents along Cedar Street. Once a few design options are put together, they’ll be presented at community events.
Miller calls them "pop-up meetings."
It might happen in the form of a booth at a Holt High School basketball game, Miller said, or a setup at the farmers market.
People who don't get out much and aren't included in a focus group still will be able contribute ideas and comments through an online portal.
"You can look at the information and log in your opinions," Miller said.
The pop-up meetings and the online portal will come into play, she said, "once we get to that point in the project where we actually have something to show and get input on."
She expects a firm Cedar strategy by the end of the year.
The first focus meeting, with seniors, was held earlier this month.
A wide range of concerns were voiced, Miller said, ranging from the pace of traffic, retail options, the need for more senior housing “in the thick of things” to the push button on a particular pedestrian crossing signal.
“There’s not much to go good or bad at this point because we’re information gathering about what peoples’ priorities are,” she said.
Haas said his top priorities include calming traffic, eliminating blight and extending fiber optics to more homes and businesses.
To the DDA, he said, the undertaking means “more opportunities to augment development and to bring more businesses that provide more services to our citizens.”