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About Explorer55

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  1. This where I first read about this proposal yesterday: http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2013/msu-grand-rapids-community-team-up-on-proposed-biomedical-research-facility/. As a planner, I keyed on this portion: "Scott Witter, who leads MSU’s Land Policy Institute and its School of Planning, Design and Construction, said the multi-disciplinary research team has a complex task ahead of it as they begin their work this week by visiting the Secchia Center, the College of Human Medicine’s headquarters. The team is charged with creating a vision for MSU and Grand Rapids as a center for biomedical research, clinical study and education in an attractive, sustainable and economically diverse community. “Our team’s role is to look at the community and MSU properties and figure out how we can design a high-class, model facility that satisfies researchers, administrators and community partners,” Witter said. “That includes looking at everything from sustainability to planning and zoning to technology.” " From this, I hope and expect this effort will take a broader view than just adding new and/or renovating existing buildings. This seems to me to be a much more comprehensive examination of downtown and the GR community at large. To attract and keep researchers, medical/grad students, and other professionals and all that come with them, a community must offer a lot more than just a job and even more than the "right" type of housing options. I think all of you know that, but it seems MSU knows that, too. At least I hope that's why they are bringing in the Land Use Institute. I think this is very exciting and could lead to GR really growing up!
  2. Back in the day, when I was growing up in Cascade and going to Forest Hills HS (it didn't become Central until my senior year), we didn't have much of a high opinion of Wyoming then. And that was in the early 1970s. It wasn't that we were hoity-toity upper income class (my dad was a mid-level federal employee), but Wyoming just seemed so "schlocky" and just not that appealing to visit for whatever reason. Even Rogers Plaza seemed past its prime back then. Not that Cascade had a lot to brag about, but this was before the worst of the strip development came creeping down 28th Street to Cascade Road. I'm not surprised to hear the comments about Wyoming, but many of us felt that way 40 years ago!
  3. Referring to GVMC, unless it's a rubber stamp to whatever MDOT wants, and I certainly hope it's not, a State DOT cannot advance any federal-aid project in a metro area without the MPO putting the project on the metropolitan transportation plan and its transportation improvement program. There's a lot more to it than that, including air quality conformity issues that the MPO is responsible for addressing. The MPO Board does have the right to determine what projects do or do not go forward within the MPO planning boundary. Of course, there has to be give and take and negotiation between the various agencies (including the transit providers). If you want an active, progressive MPO, go to meetings, get involved with planning studies, talk to the staff, and then go talk to your local representatives (mayors, township officials, city council members) who are on the MPO Policy Board. Some MPOs in this country have a lot of influence and authority, if they have the will power and impetus to use it. But if no one knows or cares, they can be almost meaningless (however, federal transportation projects still can't advance in their regions without their approval, rubber stamp or not).
  4. Whatever happens with 131, the Grand Valley Metro Council (the MPO for the GR region) must be involved, especially at the planning study level, but also when it comes to identifying funding for any project and approving any proposed project(s), particularly those with federal funding. Of course, it would be helpful if the City of Grand Rapids was on board, too! (And the City of GR is a member of the MPO, along with a bunch of other local jurisdictions.) Regardless, this isn't only a MDOT issue or decision, not by any means. Don't let anyone from MDOT make it sound like it is.
  5. That's rather strong language about DC. I've been familiar with DC since the mid-70s (worked there, visited there, played tourist there many, many times since then), when the Metro system was first under construction (!) and I don't recall that the entire District was a "hell-hole" that most Americans rejected. Yes, there were "bad neighborhoods" and slums, but just about major US city can still claim those areas. Like many cities, there was white/middle class flight back in the day, but DC had great neighborhoods then as now and certainly much of DC has been graced for years by the monuments, memorials, parks, museums, beautiful vistas, etc. And now DC is gaining population, with areas going through major redevelopment, and even the Navy Yard area along the Anacostia River is coming to life (I used to call that the arm pit of the District). So be careful of grand sweeping statements. While I haven't been to Toronto in years, just watch some of the programs on HGTV. Many of the programs are filmed in and around in Toronto. Granted, they are just TV programs about people buying, selling, fixing up homes of different types, but it looks like a great city to me and I can see why the housing prices are high, just like they are high in NYC and San Francisco. And besides, it looks like if you buy in the right neighborhood you wouldn't have to buy a car, worry about where to park it or how much it costs to park and maintain it. Not a bad situation to be in.
  6. I live in Denver and have always flown to/from GRR on United. I try to fly Frontier when I can, but the time options for the flights to GRR were awful. If I recall correctly, I couldn't get to GRR until 11:30 pm. That's a bit late for me or for whomever would pick me up. I was also concerned whether I could rent a car that late at night when I would arrive. The price differential wasn't that great, either. I doubt I'll fly SW. I've often found that the flights I want to take aren't that cheap when checking out SW vs. other airlines. And I don't like the standing in line or paying extra to get a decent seat (via the early check in option), either. I know United often gets dissed, but all in all, I know what I'm getting with UA, and usually that means flights at times I want to fly and a seat I want to sit in without a lot of hassle. Plus, because I have the Explorer card, I don't have to pay for a checked bag. I know, I sound like an ad for UA!
  7. Hey, don't lump everyone from "Ada" into that group. My sister lives off of Thornapple Dr. between Cascade and Ada and has no hesitation going to East Hills. Of course, she and I grew up there (many years ago). Maybe that has something to do with it! The area certainly has come a long, long way. It was just a pleasant residential/commercial neighborhood when I was little, but we moved away before things realy began to go "down hill". It's now surpassed anything I recall from my childhood.
  8. I tell people where I live now who "can't find parking" downtown, to venture down there more often. The more they go down there and park, the more familiar they'll be with where the parking is and where to find cheaper parking. I have my favorite spots and go directly to them when I go downtown. I also suggest they go online to websites specifically dedicated to showing available on and off street parking in the downtown area. We also have the option of a pretty good transit system in this community, so taking light rail or even an express bus is a convenient option. And on nice days, they can even bike. In GR and many places, I think it's the fear of not knowing where parking is, of unfamiliar territory and one way streets that freaks out a lot of people. That and maybe actually paying directly for parking (instead of them paying for it indirectly in other ways) and, OMG!, having to walk a couple of blocks....
  9. I grew up in "East Hills" (a term we never used when I lived there) back in the late 1950s and 60s. As a small child until I was 10, I wandered all around there, including of course, walking to Congress School. To me, the neighborhood from Paddock to the school down Lake Drive and Cherry, Diamond over to Fulton, was big and the walks long. Now of course, I go there, and it seems everything shrunk, but obviously I'm the one who got big. I have to laugh if anyone who even has to park on Paddock Street thinks walking over to the Green Well or the other business around there is a long haul. I don't feel vulnerable walking in that area along Lake Drive or Cherry, at least not during "business hours". And I'm a woman. Why is it, people will walk for miles back and forth through a mall the size of Woodland, but outside, even one or two blocks is "far"?
  10. FYI - I live in Denver and I know Frontier flies non-stop between DEN and DCA since I fly that route frequently. It's a favorite of all the federal employees out here (and sometimes Members of Congress, too). Before Frontier offered that option, I had my choice of changing planes at DFW (awful!), ORD, and sometimes St. Louis.
  11. It's a shame, too, because I know of at least one PF Chang's that built in a "village" that was constructed on the site of a dead mall in an older suburb. The building is very much in line with the village concept, built with the main doors opening to the sidewalk that parallels the village main street, and the side of the building is parallel to the major arterial that passes by the "village" (actually, the "village" is the downtown for the suburan city which never had one up until the "village" was developed and now has a whole mix of uses). Parking is to the rear or available on-street less than half a block away from the restaurant. There are probably other examples around the country where PF Chang's fit into the "village" design. Why was the company let off the hook here? If an older suburban community trying to revive the site of a dead mall/greyfield and facing other economic challenges can hold tight, why can't the jurisdiction involved here (GR? GR Township? Other?) hold tight in this case??? Anyone know?
  12. I doubt the event will be mentioned, or only mentioned briefly by a reporter or two. Despite the fact that GR has garnered a lot of attention the past month or so it seems, and many of my friend/coworkers know I'm from Grand Rapids, not one has said anything to me about the lipdub, the murders, or now, the death/burial of Mrs. Ford in GR. I've told many people to check out the lipdub, and some did (and liked it), but if I hadn't bothered to urge them to check out the lipdub, I don't think many, if any, would have ever noticed it. For that matter, a friend of mine told me she had no idea where GR is. I've showed her many times where it is on my "hand", but I had to walk her through it one more time. Granted, she's not very a good at understanding driving directions, let alone knowing US geography. Sorry guys, but that's the perspective from Denver, good or bad.
  13. Why would anyone even bother to "hate" or "strongly dislike" such an effort?. It's just something to watch, for some of us, something fun to watch. You may think someone else could have done better, but it's just a video with happy people lipsynching and dancing around downtown GR. It's not a political piece or something filled with bad feelings or idiotic talk and it's a catchy tune. Maybe I like it because the song was popular way back in the day when I was in high school and I remember singing along with it in the company of my friends and discussing whether it was about the death of Buddy Holly or President Kennedy. In other words, "lighten up"!
  14. Well, don't get carried away! It may happen, but probably will take some time. Btw, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse closed here in Denver some time ago (at least the one in Lower Downtown - the hip, happening neighborhood. Don't know if there are others in the metro area). Strange name for a restaurant, anyway.
  15. PF Chang's should just fine in GR. Where I live, there are several PF Changs and they are always busy (and I live in a middle America city/suburbs). The restaurant is considered exotic enough to be a special night out, but not so expensive or formal to chase away the more casual diners. No one around here considers it to be all that expensive (not compared to other more upscale options) and you can always stop by for drinks and appetizers. Those who want more authentic Chinese food know where to go, but when Aunt Esther and Uncle Charlie from small town Kansas are in town for a visit, PF Chang's is a good place to take them.
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