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Press Release

For Immediate Release

Feb. 12, 2010

Contact: Matt Bach
Dir. of Communications
(734) 669-6317 or mbach@mml.org

Community Design Strategies to Bolster Local Economies Presented by Expert Dan Burden

Nearly 50 Representatives from almost 25 Michigan Communities, 11 Universities, Organizations and Businesses Attend MML Workshop Today in Lansing


LANSING, Mich.—International community design expert Dan Burden addressed nearly 50 representatives from local communities, universities, nonprofits and businesses today about building communities that are easy to enjoy by making them easy to walk (see below for attendee list). He explained creating new jobs happens in walkable and visually pleasing communities that attract people. He said communities can increase local home values by improving their walk score just a few points.

Community design expert Dan Burden with Lathrup Village officials on walkability audit (more photos).

Walkable and livable communities are receiving more and more national attention by top CEOs and funding agencies. "They know walkable communities are places where people want to live and invest in new businesses, which are then likely to spend more money at local businesses," Burden said. "And more business, of course, leads to an economically stronger community."

Burden spoke today in Lansing at a workshop hosted by the Michigan Municipal League (MML). The event promoted physical design and walkability as an economic development strategy for MML members—538 cities, villages and urban townships—and the state.

MML Executive Director and CEO Dan Gilmartin said, “People want to walk or bike to work and have easy access to amenities such as parks and transit. We can lead Michigan to compete with other states by planning communities around modern demands."

Earlier this week Burden conducted walkability audits in Linden, Lapeer and Lathrup Village. Using examples from these cities and from around the country, Burden led community leaders through their streets pointing out strengths and weaknesses of their intersections, sidewalks and communities. He often gave brutally honest constructive criticism, such as standing on a blackened snow bank that covered a Linden sidewalk and asking the group “what’s wrong with this picture." In response, the city had the snow bank removed within an hour.

He also recommended potentially controversial changes, such as putting a roundabout in downtown Linden and constructing a two-lane tunnel on Southfield Road through Oakland County’s Lathrup Village. While encouraging communities to think big when it comes to redesign, he often suggested simple things too, like adding park benches and moving newspaper boxes to avoid the appearance of clutter. He demonstrated how investing in physical design will help Michigan cultivate thriving 21st century cities (photos of Burden's events in Linden, Lathrup Village and Lapeer).

“You can’t have a city that works well for cars and people. You want a town that’s focused on pedestrians and accommodates vehicles,” Burden said. “Everything we do should be based on minimizing vehicle travel and not maximizing vehicle travel." By putting people, not cars at the center of design, communities across the country are building attractive, livable environments with strong economies. A handful of Michigan communities have already realized the benefits of improving walkability in their downtowns and neighborhoods.

"It was great to have Dan Burden in Linden,” Linden Mayor David Lossing said. “He provided us an engineering sketch for a roundabout and we’re seriously considering it.”

Burden of Florida has done a lot of work in Michigan and said some of his favorite “walkable communities” in that state are Brighton, Holland, Milford, Birmingham, Traverse City, Kalamazoo, East Lansing, Mackinac Island, Marquette, Saugatuck, Grand Haven and Niles. For more about making vibrant communities, visit the Michigan Municipal League Center for 21st Century Communities. For details on Burden and his Walkable and Livable Communities Institute go to walklive.org.

The Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.


Workshop Roster - Feb. 12, Lansing
(List includes pre-registration only. Does not include at-the-door registration.)

Community
Name
Title
Kalamazoo
Frances Jewell
Parks & Recreation Supt.
DeWitt
Tim Hunnicutt
Planning Commissioner
Davison
Colleen F. Hackney
Community Develop. Dir.
Gibraltar
Brian Arp
Councilmember
Grandville
Joshua Meringa
Councilmember
Cedar Springs
Patricia A. Capek
Councilmember
Lansing
Howard Pizzo
Township Treasurer
Wyoming
Douglas Kochneff
DDA Chairman
Wyoming
Megan S. Sall
Downtown Dev Authority Dir.
Grandville
Dick Richards
Councilmember
Dearborn
Thomas Paison
Zoning Administrator
Burton
Ellen J. Ellenburg
Councilmember
Burton
Vaughn Smith
Councilmember
Grandville
Matthew C. Butts
Assistant City Manager
Grandville
Kenneth D. Krombeen
City Manager
East Lansing
Tim Potter
Manager
East Lansing
Dennis Hansen
Landscape Architect
East Lansing
Nancy Ambrose Gallagher
Clinical Faculty
           
Raquel Wilson
LISC/AmeriCorps Member
Northville
Lori Ward
Downtown Dev. Auth. Dir.
Freeport
Yvonne M. Aspinall
Village Clerk
Durand
Amy Roddy
City Manager
Durand
Jeff Brands
Councilmember
Lansing
Laura Krizov
Organizational Specialist, STARS Div.
Troy
Mary Kerwin
Councilmember
Lansing
Lisa Grost
Public Health Consultant
Lansing
Molly Smith
Public Health Consultant
Durand
Brian J. Boggs
Councilmember
South Lyon
Gary Fagin
DDA Chairperson
South Lyon
Kristen Delaney
Dir. Comm. & Econ. Devel.
Troy
Maureen M. McGinnis
Councilmember
Huntington Woods
Hank Berry
Planning & Zoning

 

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