Column: Gladstone, Escanaba parks vision plans

ESCANABA — As tourism picks up this summer, many Delta County businesses will feel an economic stimulus that will help them grow for the future. This allows businesses to invest in providing more amenities for guests to attract more customers and increase their bottom line. While the economic stimulus helps grow business and provides jobs for a variety of workers, tourism also brings added resources to the community that benefits the residents who live here as well. Tourism marketing is all about making your destination an attractive place to visit and for those of us who are lucky enough to live here it means enhancements to our community that we can enjoy all the time.

There are a variety of recently completed projects — as well as future developments — that bring publicly accessible resources to residents and tourists. Developing our local public assets provides added value for the community and a reason for visitors to stop and spend money in our businesses. The beaches and parks in our area are the perfect locations to take advantage of our greatest resource, Lake Michigan, and specifically the protected Bays de Noc that are in Delta County.

Visit Escanaba recently sponsored, on behalf of the communities of Escanaba and Gladstone, a visioning process on ways to enhance Van Cleve Park and Ludington Park for its citizens and provide economic stimulus for local businesses. This effort is tied into the statewide Pure Michigan campaign positioning Michigan as a tourism destination. As part of this process, Visit Escanaba hired MIG, Inc. to engage the community by listening, learning, and translating the stories, observations and discussions into a plan for the next century. MIG, Inc. has an impressive track record of designing state and national parks and attractions across the country. An intensive one-week design charrette was held the first week of June 2019 where meetings were conducted with Visit Escanaba and city staffs, key stakeholders and representatives of the community to explore and create preliminary site plan alternatives for renovating the parks.

When the vision plans are completed, we will have a guide for waterfront public park development that will make this area an attraction for everyone. This will help our community appeal to tourists and new talent that will help grow our businesses. It will also make our parks a more desirable and interesting location for local festivals and events. We have a lot of activities that take place in our public parks and investing in infrastructure to improve them will make all our favorite events more enjoyable now and for future generations.

While bringing more tourists here creates some concerns for residents who like our small towns the way they are, it also develops our community and makes this area a more desirable location for future residents. Developing publicly accessible areas also ensures the chance for future generations to experience the beauty of Delta County that so many of us have had the opportunity to enjoy.

We should be thankful for the upgrades that our community is working on and support future development that adds value. Infrastructure development will make our community even better than it already is.

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By: Robert Micheau is executive director of Visit Escanaba

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