Village meetings focus on revitalizing downtown Manchester
Two public meetings held last week at the Village offices attracted more than 40 interested community members to discuss the potential for economic development in Manchester.
The first meeting, held on Monday, March 28, was a brainstorming meeting with representatives of the River Raisin Watershed Council to discuss what future development could look like on the location of the “Old Buss Barn” across from Chi-Bro Park and adjacent to the Shared Use Trail.
“Utilizing the River Raisin as an asset to our community has been discussed for many years,” said Village President Pat Vailliencourt. The village has also recently applied for a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund grant to develop a riverfront recreation area with canoe and kayak take out, along with other features, to make this asset a reality.
Tuesday’s meeting focused more on building support and enthusiasm for the idea of “placemaking,” a new term that describes how a community becomes not only a desirable place to settle, but also a destination to which others will be attracted. Gil White, a Realtor and the main promoter of the “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” (LQC) grant for which the village will also apply this spring, explained a little bit about placemaking and how the LQC program can help Manchester “test out ideas to create a vibrant community.”
Vailliencourt started the meeting by asking, “How do we support existing businesses and attract new businesses to our community?” White talked about the opportunities available through LQC and what other communities have done with their grants in prior years–from street musicians to artists’ demonstrations to large scale games and downtown seating, all creating a more inviting ambiance to the downtown district.
With the Main Street Bridge soon to open, Vailliencourt pointed out that this is the optimal time to be working on programs that will create placemaking in Manchester for the present and the future.
A total of $13,500 in combined LQC grants could be available from local realtors and Washtenaw County, for grassroots programs. The short timeline for the grant applications means that the grants could be received as soon as early to mid-June. Discussions between the Farmers Market and Gazebo concert committees have already led to one idea in process, tentatively called, “Thursdays in Manchester.” Farmers Market board member Ruth VanBogelen and Gazebo Concert chair Carol Palms are seeking ways to keep people in town to take advantage of both events on Thursdays this summer, by coordinating with churches, businesses, and other organizations to provide more reasons to “Make it Manchester” on Thursday afternoons and evenings.
Other ideas included outdoor movies, river safety and wellness presentations, pet and bike parades, photo contests, sidewalk art, and combining efforts with the Canoe Race, Fair, July 4 Fireworks, and Run Manchester.
Discussions will continue over the next few weeks, but programs will need to be implemented by June. If you have any input to offer, please contact Village President Pat Vailliencourt at email@example.com.