EATON — Praise for the parks and a desire for additional recreational opportunities – like a free splash pad, were just some of the topics which came up at the “Elevate Eaton” kick off meeting last week. The first of several public meetings to allow residents and property owners to help update the City of Eaton’s Comprehensive Development Plan was held on Thursday, July 28. Over 40 individuals attended.
“Elevate Eaton” is a project the City of Eaton is taking on to develop a modern comprehensive development plan for the entire community. The city is working with Wendy Moeller and Pete Bales of Local Gov Consultants LLC to complete the plan.
Moeller kicked off Thursday’s meeting by providing a short presentation on what a comprehensive development plan is, and the process which would be taken to create an updated plan for the City of Eaton.
A comprehensive plan is a long-term guide for future development, redevelopment, and reinvestment which looks out 10 to 15 years in the future. The intent of the plan is to provide a vision on which future decisions can be based, including — but not limited to — capital improvements, investment and reinvestment opportunities and regulatory changes related to the physical, economic, and social development of the city.
Eaton’s last comprehensive development plan, released in 2003, is available for review under the Planning Board’s page (hover over or select “Government” to get there) at www.cityofeaton.org.
After Moeller provided basic information about the process, those in attendance at the meeting were given a mapping exercise to work on as a group. They were asked to identify areas of the city they value, and areas they see as needing change.
Overwhelmingly, those in attendance value the city’s parks, and would like to see enhancements like bike paths to circle downtown Eaton, upgrades at Water Works Park, and additional recreational opportunities. Attendees would also like to see additional housing options in Eaton, at all affordability ranges. Several people would like to see a multi-use recreational/conference facility near Fort St. Clair.
Other topics included infrastructure improvements like upgrading streets and storm sewer in various areas, renovations and upgrades while preserving the historical downtown, the need for additional grocery store options, reuse of the old Kmart and Marsh buildings, and incentives to not only attract new businesses, but retain current ones.
A second exercise focused on “Big Ideas” and gave those attending a chance to share their ideas for the City of Eaton. Afterwards, attendees were asked to mark those ideas with colored stickers as to their priority, “#1, #2, or #3.”
Some of the ideas brought up by those attending the meeting included construction of a splash pad at one of the parks, the need for a youth recreation center, a multi-use community center, the possibility of holding community events in the parks.
Several of those attending would also like to find ways of keeping more people working in Eaton living in Eaton, improving broadband access, attracting younger families, and bringing in additional housing and businesses within city limits up U.S. 127 North.
At a June meeting, Eaton City Council established a steering committee to work closely with the consultants to craft a plan which is tailored to the City of Eaton’s needs and resources. But the vision and recommendations of the plan will be driven by the input from residents, property owners, and business owners who will have multiple opportunities to participate over the course of the next several months. Additional public meetings will be planned for this fall.
To be notified directly of additional meetings, sign up to receive emails at www.elevateeaton.com.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.