Taking a major step toward ensuring its streets, sidewalks and pathways are as safe, welcoming and functional as possible for all types of users, the City of Williamston has passed a Complete Streets ordinance, becoming the 7th Michigan community to do so. Adopted unanimously by the City Council at its June 12 meeting, the ordinance calls for a number of next steps, including that the City develop a Comprehensive Non-Motorized Transportation Plan to be incorporated into the City’s Master Plan when it is revised in 2012.
“This Complete Streets ordinance is the first step toward creating an even better experience for all those who travel in or through Williamston, whether they do so on foot or bike, or in a wheelchair, car or some other mode of transportation,” said Michael Gradis, Associate Planner for McKenna Associates and staff planner for the City of Williamston. “The positive effects of this ordinance will be seen very soon and yet last for generations.”
Among other things, the Complete Streets ordinance will help create better links between destinations within the City, including Williamston Schools, the commercial downtown and McCormick Park, Williamston Industrial Park, and newly constructed neighborhoods. The Non-Motorized Transportation Plan will also propose connections to surrounding communities.
With input from Williamston’s Department of Public Works and Police Department, Gradis and McKenna Principal Planner Greg Milliken, AICP, approached City Council about the merits of Complete Streets and drafted the ordinance that was eventually adopted.
The City has discussed a number of initiatives in conjunction with recent downtown streetscape and park improvements—all focused around the idea of “placemaking,” a term used to describe the process of creating spaces that are pleasurable, interesting and useful for new or existing users.
“By improving existing non-motorized infrastructure and expanding the non-motorized network throughout the City, we hope spaces once skipped over or not enjoyed will be reclaimed—particularly by new non-motorized users,” said Milliken.
Working for the City of Williamston, Gradis and Milliken have already begun drafting the Comprehensive Non-Motorized Transportation Plan and will soon conduct a series of brainstorming sessions with elected officials, other staff and the public.
By enacting the Complete Streets ordinance, Williamston has moved closer to its goals of encouraging healthy, active living; improving non-motorized mobility options; and improving the safety and quality of life of all its residents.
For more information:
Associate Planner, McKenna Associates
Staff Planner, City of Williamston, MI