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Action Alert: Bayfront Plan in Need of 11th Hour YIMBY Input

UPDATE: 4pm, 11/17- Correction, the City Commission will consider the 2012 Clinch Park plan at their November 28 study session.  Formal action on the park design by the City Commission may occur on December 5. Still, between now and then they need to hear from people who want something great, not merely adequate. 

Action Needed

Help support bold progress for the Bayfront Plan

In the last decade area citizens have been asked to dream big about our community. Perhaps we can blame it on the national press the area receives (or, perhaps it is something in the water), but when area residents are asked to vision, like they were for the Grand Vision as well as the original Your Bay, Your Say, they dream big. In both of the above cases, they did so in large numbers.

Traverse City’s waterfront has come a long way. Growing up here over the last 39 years I’ve seen surprising transformations. That there really used to be a working coal plant right downtown on West Bay remains difficult to believe.

Still, the waterfront has a lot more potential. It can be an expression of the community’s commitment to protecting and connecting to the water. As JRW likes to say, “Michigan…It’s the Water!” and nowhere should that be more of the case than in Traverse City. Currently, we are separated from it by  an aggressive highway and, in the case of Clinch Park, a space that does little to capture people’s imaginations. It is a place to pass through, not linger.

The Your Bay, Your Say and last year’s Bayfront Planning process were the latest attempts to remedy that situation. Planning is important and there has been plenty. Unfortunately, we continue to have reluctant City Commissioners who are unable or unwilling to take bold actions when needed to implement those plans.

Each member of the current City Commission has somewhere along the way said that the Bayfront is a priority. They have also voted at least 3 times in the last year to move forward with a vision for excellence. They have done so because it makes economic sense for a city celebrated for its high quality of life to invest in its most visible public spaces.  They have also done so because they know the countless hours and energy that hundreds, if not thousands, have given to the cause over the last 5,10, 20 years.

UPDATE: Last night the Planning Commission voted the above campus plan inconsistent with the 2010 Plan due to the inclusion of the train. At their previous meeting the eastern portion (Phase I) was found consistent.

Moving Forward with the 2012 Bayfront Construction

Last spring an RFP went out for a first phase centered around the eastern edge of Clinch Park. This is the most coveted part of the park.  It is the area where the majority of activity wants to take place; people gravitate towards the water’s edge. The firm hired for this phase produced an adaptation based off of the 2010 plan as expected.  A sub-committee consisting of 3 Parks and Recreation Commissioners (myself included) and anywhere from 4-6 City staff members worked with them over the summer to approve a design recommended by the Parks and Recreation Commission for review by the Planning Commission and finally the City Commission. The latter needs to sign off before construction begins. Their next opportunity will be at their November 21st November 28th meeting.

It has been a difficult summer concerning the plan. The majority of the voices that the city has heard lately have been extremely negative in tone and extremely short-sighted in the level of investment required to honor the public process. Apparently it is working, as one City Commissioner has even expressed that perhaps the entire plan be scraped and that the City start over with a smaller expectations. As an appointed advisor to the City, I strongly recommend the opposite. This is the time to be raising the expectations, not taking them backward.

This is no time for small thinking and cold feet; the City Commission needs a reminder of the support they have for being brave.  Please, email City Commissioners before their next meeting and remind them to be bold, visionary and inventive. 

After starting with $0 last year, the City has $1.3 million dollars pledged to phase 1 at Clinch Park (note: phase 1 does not include  all of what is shown above). Over $400,000 is from private, local donors committed to the 2010 Bayfront project. There is also $480,000 from the Natural Resources Trust Fund  that is matched by the Traverse City DDA. With just under a year to go, we are short anywhere from $375,000 to design/construct new bathrooms or up to $2-mil if we attempt to do something more special in 2012.

With commitment and full engagement to the cause, I’m confident that our current City Commission can work with staff and other City boards to find a solution that honors the vision of the community for a newly imagined waterfront.

They need to be reminded that city residents support a project that is bold and that honors the effort put in over the last decade. Please send a brief, supportive message to that end.

As a former mayor once said about the Bayfront plan just before the 2010 planning:

“We can do something average, or something great.”


I prefer great. You?


There is now a MyWHaT email resource page, but for convenience below are the emails for City Commissioners, Planning Commissioners, and Parks and Recreation Commissioners. Please paste into the email as a BCC. 

mgillman@conklinbenham.com, “Mary Ann Moore” <maryannmoore@charter.net>, “Jim Carruthers” <jccarruthers@gmail.com>, “Jody Bergman” <jodyabergman@yahoo.com>, “Barbara Budros” <bbudros2@ci.traverse-city.mi.us>, “Michael Estes” <mestes@chartermi.net>,  “Jeanine Easterday” <jeasterday@ci.traverse-city.mi.us>, “Ben Bifoss” <bbifoss@traversecitymi.gov>, “Russ Soyring” <rsoyring@ci.traverse-city.mi.us>, “Andy Andres” <a.andres@charter.net>, “Jody Bergman” <jodyabergman@yahoo.com>, “Jennifer Jaffe” <jdjaffetc@gmail.com>, crmcnally@chartermi.net, “Mary Ann Moore” <maryannmoore@charter.net>, jfskbs@gmail.com, jawarren@tbaisd.k12.mi.us, werner_tm@yahoo.com,“Lauren Vaughn” <LVaughn@ci.traverse-city.mi.us>, “Missy Luick” <mluick@ci.traverse-city.mi.us>, “Keedanlex@gmail.com” <keedanlex@gmail.com>, “Brian Haas” <ob1haas@gmail.com>, “Traverse City Parks” <traversecityparks@gmail.com>, steinbl@yahoo.com, “Arianne Petersen” <ariannepetersen@hotmail.com>, “Robert Cole” <rcole@ci.traverse-city.mi.us>, “Sheila Dodge” <sdodge@ci.traverse-city.mi.us>, <citizenhowe@gmail.com>

  1. T. Werner
    November 17, 2011 at 9:00 am

    The City Commissioners are only hearing from a small group of people about how horrible the Bayfront plan is. They need to hear from the silent majority that wants something GREAT on the Bayfront. Speak up!

  2. November 17, 2011 at 9:33 am

    bravo Gary. Real leadership is being for something and willing to work for it and take educated risks to get there. That is what the P&R commission has demonstrated throughout this process.

    It is vital that people understand there is money in the bank to get this project done next year. There is $1M in the DDA TIF 97 capital account that has been “soft-earmarked” by staff for the Hotel Indigo tunnel, but that project does not have other funds necessary and likely lacks 5 CC votes.

    There is another $1M in leftover DDA bond proceeds from the Hardy parking deck, which can be re-purposed but are being “soft-earmarked” by staff for the West Front St parking deck. There is another $600,000 in DDA TIF 97 revenue coming into the fund next year. These funds can be spent anywhere in the downtown district, including on the bayfront. A $2.2 million Clinch Phase I is still cheaper by hundreds of thousands of dollars than a tunnel.

    There are strong champions of the bayfront project on the DDA board. Board chair Mike Jackson was one of the prime movers of the whole project and has been there every step of the way. Nate Elkins is also a DDA member, parks advocate, and as previous chair led P&R through the design/engineering. Ross Biederman contributed money from his own foundation to support the Clinch project. Jan Chapman, Harry Burkholder, and Leah McCallum all have gone on record as strong supporters of the project.

    There are advocates on the CC and PC as well – including Mayor Estes. There is a need and a way to get there – we just need the will. Thanks for all you do.

  3. T. Werner
    November 17, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Thank you Mayor Emeritus Bzdok for pointing out the possible sources of additional money. I would like to add to the list the City money used to subsidize dead non-city residents. Each year approximately $150,000 subsidizes non-city residents in the City cemetery. Using a conservative discount rate the net present value of this subsidy is more than $1.5 million.

  4. LCM
    November 17, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Gary, thanks for the emails and the helpful text that makes it a cinch to send an email- done. Lets make the Bayfront great!

  5. James
    November 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Dear Gary,
    Does this plan actually work for the train? The last plan that the parks and rec chose ignored the track requirements and would not work for the train. Can you list the requirements and say/show that the track meets all of them?

    If the track won’t work or if it is not certain if the requirements have been met, let’s not waste time on it but get one that will work.

  6. November 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Parks and Recreation recommended the short loop with the understanding and assurances that there were challenges, but yes, a solution was possible. However, the fate of the train ride is now between the Planning Commission and the City Commission. The former ruled a plan that includes the train inconsistent with the City’s campus plan for the park. The latter will consider the Planning Commission’s vote on Nov. 28th.

    I’m encouraging people simply to provide support for the City Commission to move forward decisively with something worthy of the lengthy public process that has occurred–with or without the train.

  7. Citizen Volunteer
    November 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    The plan has always worked. This plan is a concept and the requirements are known and will be met. The parks and rec commission, the staff and consultants worked to do what the “save the train” group asked for, keep the train on the bayfront and in Clinch park. Last night the Planning Commission voted that keeping the train is not in line with the Bayfront Master Plan. The final approval for the Clinch Park plans will be made by the City Commission. Please send emails for your support of a great park that will be enjoyed by all for years to come.

  8. James
    November 17, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Dear Citizen Volunteer,
    If it is all a concept, then why not also change around the water park? Move it around the park so the full track can be used?

    Also, if they are spread more through the park, they can be built a bit bigger to attract more people without being on top of each other, which can cause crowding.

    If the plans are a concept, then scrapping them and starting over is also viable. A concept is not in concrete but can be changed, things added/removed, moved around or scrapped when there have been too many problems.

  9. James
    November 17, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Dear Gary and Citizen Volunteer,
    If requirements are NOT met, then the plan does NOT work. Anyone can make things look nice on paper, it takes someone with skill to make it work in real life. The manmade creek was supposed to flow uphill in the 2010 plan. That is impossible; that plan did not work.

    Requirements set by the train expert and the City engineers in 1981 were ignored in the first Short Loop and it was even mentioned that it should be “a train ride” and buy a new train. Yet, you want to have the 2010 planning count and ignored the 1981 planning that could have easily been looked up. The radius requirements were there if anyone would have looked them up.

    Now, can one of you A) list all the requirements for the train and B) show how they have been met. Show us that the requirements are indeed being met.

    If you say it will be done, then show us. Actions and knowledge speak louder than general statements.

  10. Jeff
    November 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Dear James,
    here are the requirements as sent to the City and Parks and Rec Commission on Sunday, October 02, 2011.

    “From: From: Donald Frost

    First, I want to put to rest a rumor. It has been stated that I have said that the “small loop” would work for the train, “The Spirit of Traverse City.” That is untrue. The small loop WILL NOT WORK for the following reasons:

    •Curve minimum radius of 100’ (that is of the inside rail)
    •Transition from straight to curve at least 20’ both ends of curve
    •Maximum grade of 2% (2’ change in elevation per 100’ of track)
    •Transition from level to grade of 20-30’ at each end”

  11. Jeff
    November 17, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Cecil McNally said, as the past chair of the Your Bay Your Say Committee, it was a priority of the public to keep the train.

    This is part of the prior planning. One of the City Commissioners has the proposal which states that the train is important. This along with the 1981 City engineer requirements for the train should still be held as valid if the rest of the prior planning is being held as vaild.

    Keep ALL the planning valid, or none of it at all.

  12. Mom of 3
    November 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    This has been in the public makings for as longs as we’ve lived up here, its good to finally see a plan! Although, I’ve not been as involved as I’d like to, (with my kids, I’ve had great *reason* to be involved, but not the time) I have been watching. There have been many times we’ve walked over to where the zoo used to be and I’ve thought to myself, “something great could be in this space”. I’ve heard inklings of a splash park and think its a fantastic idea. With kids ages 4-10, I can say with authority, it would get a lot of use and be a great “center” for community and meeting others. We’ve visited them in many other cities, and its wonderful to talk to other parents and watch our kids play together, even though we’ve never met prior. They’re super-safe, too, especially great for babies and toddlers who can’t quite handle the Bay yet. It’s nerve-wracking to be a mother on the beach with an 18-month old intent on getting to the “big water”! Looking at the comments above, I’m not that worried about the train – it’s cute but I don’t think my kids have ever even asked to ride it. If it’s between the train and the splash park – my kids would say splash park hands down.

  13. Jason
    November 17, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    If Citizen Volunteer is right and the plan is just a concept, then why was it so hard to change the concept to have the train back in the plan? Just go back 1 plan from the 2010 approve plan and the train is there.

    Why were the requirements ignored in the “concept?” It just takes more time and money to go back and do it right. Anything can be a “good concept” but might not work in the real world.

    I know that this is not pratical, but if you want a better park and more usable land, get rid of the marina and its parking.

    Is it about the water as in Grand Traverse Bay, or man made water features? The land for the marina is not natural but was brought in. The water features and creek will be man made. Why not have a concept of a pool for those who don’t like the beach or bay? Why not the concept of having a bontanical garden? Why not the concept of having a huge and elaborate fountain in the center of the park?

    Concepts are good as long as they can work in the real world and not cost a fortune to redo the plans/concepts to meet requirements.

    The public wanted to keep the train yet someplace it was removed and there are those in the commissions don’t want it back. The public wants the train and the City was very slow about making it public that the train would not be there. The City should not blame the lack of support for the train when the City was very slow about saying that the train would not be there.

    The 1981 track requirements, planning that said to keep the train, planning for the new features, make it work together and don’t sacrifice one thing to keep from changing the other. The saying, “play nice with the other children” applies very much to this situation. Compromise is the best solution; this does not mean one group sacrifices for the other, but find middle ground, find the best solution.

    Make it great, spend money wisely, plan concepts correctly the first time and keep all the planning valid. That is pretty simple and very straight forward yet is not being followed.

  14. Jason
    November 17, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    Oh yes, and please answer the question about if the requirements for the track are all met. It is pointless to show and talk about plans when the requirements are not met.

  15. Mom of 3
    November 17, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    “Play nice with the other children” seems a bit ironic and out of context in this portion of the discussion because it seems to have nothing to do with ‘actual’ children whatsoever. This whole discussion confuses me – Get rid of the marina? A pool? A fountain? A botanical garden? (I believe we have one in the works elsewhere in TC) And 1981 “track requirements”? What is this really about? I was a toddler in 1981, but I’m an adult, a parent and a member of the TC community now – things change. Where is this “public” that desires to keep the train to the point of altering these great plans, plans that could only add to the value of the TC community for years to come? I know I’ve been out of the loop, but I can get caught up to speed real quick. I care about our community, our love of the water, and making great innovative and inspiring places that we can be together. This really makes no sense to me…

  16. November 18, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Again, the train has been deemed inconsistent to the Planning Commission’s Campus Plan. That has nothing to do with track radius and all to do with what came out of the public process in 2010. The Planning Commission’s vote was 6-2 against supporting a plan with it included. Yes, I understand some train advocates feel snubbed by the 2010 process, but that is not the topic of discussion of this post nor is it a topic of discussion I care to contribute to in this forum. There have, and will continue to be, countless public meetings for them to voice dissatisfaction with the process.

    If you are passionate about the train, and I have no problem with you being so, please engage in the process at public meetings where many of your questions are discussed. If that is not satisfactory, please contact City Planning or the Parks and Recreation Superintendent for specific answers to your questions.

  17. 30something
    November 18, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I’m a 30 something that has grown up in the area. I’m jumping in on this conversation long after it started but would like to have a say nonetheless. I have strong nostalgic memories of the train but have even stronger desires to have memories in the future. The train doesn’t bring people to Traverse City, but a new development of the waterfront would. The train is a seasonal event, while I’m assuming the new development would be a 4 season attraction. Can we honor the train in another area of TC? I know this idea is sparking a lot of emotion which I understand. However, I would like to think that there could be a more functional purpose for the waterfront area where even more memories could be created. The “Spirit of Traverse City” is in the people and where people gather the spirit lives. It appears by the financial support already in place that there is a desire to create a new place for the spirit to thrive. I love the train, but I love the idea of this new development even more. We are a progressive community full of entrepreneurs and this is the reason I keep coming back to the area and continue to be inspired. Let’s keep the momentum going.

  18. Will Havill
    November 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Having lived here 30 plus years I would rather see this city move forward with the master plans. The train was fun I had great memories of it. We need a place where people of all ages can enjoy. A park is such a place.

  19. Richard Miller
    November 18, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    I let the zoo go, I can let the train go also. Let’s move forward with decisive action on a good project that’s ready to go!

  20. Greg
    November 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    From the way I read your post it appears that you are not trying to start a debate about any section/design of the park. It appears that it has taken that spin because of readers comments. What you tried in your writing is a hard thing to do because of these two topics:

    1) The train. Prior planning said the public wanted to keep the train. Final 2010 planning said the opposite and removed the train. Information was not given freely from the City to the public (not your fault, but something that needs to be taken into consideration) and the fight to add it back in.

    2) The tunnel. Spending an extra $1,000,000 on a tunnel that is not even sure if it is really needed nor wanted.

    I like what Citizen Volunteer said about being a concept, but then again it should be treated like a concept instead of like a final plan where things cannot change.

    I agree with needing to keep the prior planning valid, but I fear that some of the prior planning and requirements are being ignored and others kept. It can appear that the commissioners are picking and choosing what they want to listen to and choose.


  21. Paul
    November 18, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Dear parents and those of you who support the new water features,
    You can view this statement as a public service announcement if you would like:

    Please also consider the hazards with water: drowning, slipping and falling.

    Now the bay is a natural hazard, but man made creeks, splash pads, and water features have man made drowning, slipping and falling hazards. The water only needs to be deep enough to cover the nose of a child lying face down in the water, about 1/2″ deep. It only takes about 4 minutes to drown.

    When I was younger, I was a life guard. I have watched children, teens and adults almost drown. I have heard the bone chilling scream of a mother who just realized that her child is drowning or has drowned. No one wants to have it happen either to them or to witness it. I have pulled a child’s lifeless body out of the water and that is not something anyone should go through.

    Many people do not know the real signs of drowning and can be right next to someone who is drowning and not know it until it is too late. I have seen this happen. People think it won’t happen to them but happens to “someone else” but it can happen to them or the “someone else” is right next to them and they can have the chance of saving someone’s life if the actually see what is happening.

    With the new man made creek, the well water will have a slippery and unsightly scum. In addition there are other water features that have slipping, falling and drowing hazards. Safety has been brought up about the train, but nothing has yet been talked about with these safety hazards with the water park.

    Drowing can happen in Traverse City. This summer an 18 year-old man disobyed the “no swimming” signs at the marina and drowned.

    No one wants to have a child, teen or adult drown at Clinch Park. What will be done to minimize these hazards?

    I know that you don’t have all the answers but I would urge you to pursue this to help prevent future drownings at Clinch Park.

  22. Paul
    November 18, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    I hope the thumbs down does not mean that people don’t care about the drowing hazards with this park. Once a kid drowns or comes close, it will be a huge issue. If that happens, I would be willing to bet that Rob Dean would come out of retirement again with legal action against the City as has happened with the Marina drowning.

    The City should take action against drowning hazards with the man made water features and man made hazards. The City should protect our children and grandchildren when they design things of this nature.

    By the time a child dies/drowns, it is too late. Start now with safety. Do not make it dangerous and deadly by design.

  23. Jim
    November 19, 2011 at 7:50 am

    The plan is not train vs splash pads/water park. The Your Bay Your Say former chairman said the train was a priority of the public. The later people of the Your Bay Your Say said the public either wants to get rid of it and/or did not care. Then when this was known, support for the train came. But we are beyond that now.

    On September 12, 2011 the City Commission said to have a park that will work for the water park AND the train. That is what we should be working towards, a park where one attraction is not sacrificed for another. A park where ALL prior planning is valid.

    My family moved here when I was 2 in 1950 and my children, grandchildren and now my great-grandchildren have grown up/are growing up in the area. Yes it can be nerve-wracking to have small children around the bay, but they can be injured just as easily in a water park. The parents should watch their children (I know many let them run around free in this day in age) as all it takes is a faceplant and being knocked out in a 1/2″ deep puddle and the child can drown.

    If the train is to be removed, there should be good facts (not passion) as to why it will be removed and reasons why. Around 20,000 people ride the train a year, it is not like no one rides it.

    If the train is to be kept, there should be good facts/reason (not passion) as to why and how it will stay. There appears to be someone in TC who has the knowledge to take care of it, so that is not a problem.

    For the new features, there should be good solid estimates (the project was underestimated, I was told the new bath house will cost double what the estimate was) for construction cost and annual maintenance cost as well as operational cost so the taxpayers will know up front how much it will cost them each year.

    As mentioned in another post, there should be a safety plan to keep our children, grandchildren, etc safe with the new water features.

    Let’s please stick to the facts during this process and please not polarize it into train vs. water features.

  24. Jim
    November 19, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I have lived here for 61 years and I agree that a park is such a place where people of all ages can enjoy. The train has riders who are infants through senior citizens, like myself. I am sure the new features will also attract people of different age groups.

    If we want multi-generational attractions, why don’t we leave the train since it already is a multigenerational attraction that has been there since 1982?

    If the train losing money is a problem, then the City can fix it if it chooses, however since the City never set the train up to make money in the first place, then the City has no right to complain. Either they should fix the system which they made or accept what they have done.

    We all enjoy different things. A “great park” for one person is not a “great park” for someone else. So why not have diverse attractions to attract diverse people?

  25. Emily's Dad
    November 19, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I think it’s important to consider the fact that splash pads have become so popular around the country for the very concerns you’re citing here, Paul. Splash pads are designed to have non-slip surfaces and not have standing water. For those reasons they don’t require life guards and are very inexpensive to build and maintain. One added benefit is that kids love them. I’m looking forward to taking my kids down there — this splash pad will finally give us a reason to use this park.

    Your stated concerns about man made water hazards and being able to drown in 1/2 inch of water is a good description of the city sidewalk in front of my house and around town. Another good reason why we should continue to invest in our sidwalks and trails!

  26. Paul
    November 19, 2011 at 9:27 am

    I have seen some good set-ups for splash pads and some not so good. While there are potential hazards (from what I have seen and what you have said, they appear to be minimized) with Splash Pads, my biggest concern is the man made creek.

    The well water creek appears to be a good idea on paper, but it comes with unsightly and slippery scum. It would be much easier for someone to slip and fall into the creek and potentially drown than with the splash pads.

    Personally I think a museum, splash pads, the train, the zoo, playground, cafe and canoe rental would make a really neat park. In reality I would like to see the splash pads, playground, the train, cafe and canoe rental. I think that this is realisitc and very do-able to make it all work nicely together. Have multiple things to attract more people than what one or two things can do.

    I agree that sidewalks and trails need to be invested in. Unfortunately we have let the safety and needs for hikers, walkers and bicyclists fall by the way side.

  27. Mom of 3
    November 19, 2011 at 9:28 am

    There is risk inherent in everything, and as a parent, this is right in front of my face at all times – heck, putting my kids in the car and driving is one of the riskiest things I could possibly do, and yet I do it everyday. I could argue that splash parks are very safe, that I’ve been to many, that their very design is safety, (honestly, the bay is much more of a risk – but I’m going to continue to bring my kids there, too).

    But this isn’t the point.

    The point isn’t a splash park – or the train. The point of this is a vision of the community for a newly imagined waterfront. One that makes great use of great space that is now largely unused, and even somewhat unusable. The point is to imagine, design and create a space that encourages people to interact, linger, make meaningful contact with other parents, children, grandparents, professionals, tourists, locals – to be in proximity to each other – and our water.

    My concern in seeing this discussion unfold, (and this is what I said “confuses” me earlier, the initial post doesn’t indicate any specific feature – only the desire for the best design possible for the space) is that somehow it seems that one existing aspect of the space is sidelining the entire discussion.

    Again, I don’t think this is the point.

    The point isn’t the train or a splash park or any other specific existing or imagined feature. The point is a “solution that honors the vision of the community for a newly imagined waterfront.” All discussion and specifics should filter through this lens, letting no one aspect dominate the discussion, the process – or in the end, the actual bayfront space.

  28. Paul
    November 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I understand what you are saying. My understanding of the situation is that there have been very strong opinions against the train right from the start and it was train vs new park design in people’s minds. Whether that was right or wrong, it is human nature that once something comes through in a certain way to continue to see it that way.

    I think what Jason was getting at is how people respond to different “concepts” as we all have our own preferences and passions and we will react (good or bad) to different plans/concepts.

    There are many good/great parks that have a train running around the park with the other attractions in the center. There are many good/great parks that do not have a train. The same can be said about splash pads, museums, playgrounds, etc.

    It is impossible to please everyone, however the next best thing is go compromise or modify placements of featues (not just 1, but modify all to get the best fit) to allow a park that does not crowd people together yet still has multiple attractions to attract people of all ages and be pleasing to the eye. Create a park that works for all the attractions and does not snub an attraction to make way for others.

  29. November 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Although I understand that we all enjoy a good online point and counter point from time to time, it is not productive for this discussion to be dominated by a few individuals. That practice typically leads to alienation of other readers who may wish to comment, but would rather not join a “debate”. Please, if you’ve made a point there is no need to make it again. There are plenty of other public avenues for the discussion to continue.

    I urge everyone who is invested in the outcome of the Bayfront to contact your City representatives, show up at meetings and get engaged. The result from 2010 was precisely the result of hundreds’s of people coming out and doing just that.

    Comments remain open, are encouraged and will be monitored according to the comments policy. Thank you everyone for contributing.

  30. Mom of 3
    November 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    My apologies,

    This was only what I picked up in a few comments above –
    the post itself seemed to be about advocating for the best possible waterfront. Honestly, the comments above and below, including specific details for train requirements and exaggerated drowning warnings, also furthered my thinking that it was coming down to “train vs waterpark” or “train vs bayfront plans” – or something myopic like that. There does seem to be a lot of rigidity in the thinking regarding the train, that’s what I’m picking up, anyway. Maybe I’m wrong? I’d certainly be happy to be wrong.

    I’d love to see the discussion not polarized. Polarization certainly doesn’t bring anyone closer to any kind of good solution, and getting mired in polarized details only keeps everyone from stepping back far enough to imagine the best possible outcomes for all involved, (and that’s all of us).

  31. Jeff
    November 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Dear Mom of 3,

    I can only speak for myself on the train issue. There has to be some rigidity when it comes to the train in order to meet the track requirements. The train has physical limitations and the requirements are set so that a track which meets the requirements will work for the train. The requirements that are set for the train now are also the same requirements that the City Engineers used when the track was laid in 1981/82.

    The first “Short Loop” did not meet the requirements (which were known) and therefore would not work for the train. This one, it may work. Judging by the drawing (which only gives a 2-D view of a 3-D world) it looks like may work.

    For the park, I would prefer to have other attractions there. I agree with the zoo gone ConFoster Museum Building not open to the public, most people pass through the park. Add in splash pads, playground etc and keep the train (older attractions and new ones) to promote a unique park to attract more people than what just the train or just the new water features can do on their own. Keep it fun and do it in a way so no one attraction is sacrificed for another. Keep an attraction that has been there since 1982 (and carries an average of 185-200 people per day) and add onto the park instead of making everything new.

    Personally I would like the train to stay, but I know it is up to the public to decide that. Based off of the information I have been given it has appeared that early planning showed that the train was a priority and would be kept but later planning showed the opposite.

    If the Spirit of Traverse City is going to stay, then the track needs to be designed and built to the set requirements so the Spirit of Traverse City can run on it. Yes it is a bit rigid but still doable. If people want it, it can be done. If this new short loop meets the requirements, then it could be considered a viable plan.

    All the attractions will have their own requirements and conditions. In order to have them work together and work well, all of the requirements should be met without impeding on each other.


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