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  • Location
    Grand Rapids: Belknap
  • Interests
    Nonprofit consultant and founding member of Newberry Place: a Grand Rapids Cohousing Community

bwindi25's Achievements


Whistle-Stop (3/14)



  1. The next stage of planning and design has begun on Coit Bridge and corridor improvements like more sustainable landscape elements. Fundraising efforts are underway to make these improvements a reality. The City and MDOT have contributed to some additional structural improvements, including widening the bridge and 12ft sidewalks on the deck. But additional dollars (700k or so) will need to be raised to attempt to leverage another 1.5 million to get more sustainable landscape elements, fencing, and other aesthetic treatments. We're getting closer folks, but still some work to do.
  2. Sorry the resolution isn't better on these. These are the latest engineering study drawings I've seen for the overpass. It is my understanding that this is a preliminary study that they are working from. I think th 6 lanes are a given, but there is still some flex on sidewalk widths and the on-ramp access to the neighborhood. The first overhead shot shows 6 lanes of traffic. It also shows that the current cut-through into the Belknap Neighborhood at Hastings as being eleminated. This is still being explored as a possibility. If the route into the neighborhood remains open, then there will be a redesign to improve the safety. From a neighborhood perspective, there would also need to be some gateway elements and cues that people are entering a residential community, not Michigan Ave. The second drawing has the following dimensions working from left to center for the 6 lane bridge: 8ft sidewalk, 2 ft shy, 12ft lane, 12ft lane, 11ft lane. The current 5 lane configuration is 6ft sidewalk, 1ft shy, 11ft lane, 11ft lane and one 11ft center lane. Again, from a neighborhood perspective, I think we would advocate for a minimum of 10ft area for pedestrians. The city standard, as I understand it, is 14ft (3ft from buildings, 6ft sidewalk, 5ft parkway). This is obviously a little different from a downtown street scape, but there should be a buffer between the cars and pedestrians.
  3. The plans, as I've seen them drawn up, are for 6 lanes of traffic and 10ft sidewalks on either side. There is very little aesthetic character being talked about for this bridge as far as I can tell. Primarily because of the tight confines moving north and south and the accelerated timeline. If you have any input for this bridge, I would get it into MDOT right now.
  4. http://www.baconsaltblog.com/2007/10/bacon...CFQ66PAodajjhfw Here's a random one.... EDIT Sorry - just saw that the board has already been invaded by bacon salt news - behind as usual
  5. There is a Michigan Law called the Headlee Amendment that does cap the increase to the rate of inflation. That still means that property taxes continue to increase though. And even 3% incremental changes can affect people on fixed incomes. Additionally, when the property changes hands, a new assessed value is applied and property taxes jump. While that doesn't impact the current homeowner, it does potentially make that property less affordable for future residents and decreases the overall affordability of a neighborhood. My comments are not meant to be anti-gentrification. Gentrification on some levels are necessary to create more healthy and sustainable neighborhoods. When a neighborhood doesn't have middle-class families, the chances of sustaining any sort of neighborhood commercial and schools decreases significantly. The challenge is how to develop a neighborhood that continues to provide affordable rental and home-ownership opportunities, while allowing for middle and upper income households to find housing that meets their needs or desires. In many cases that is the role of nonprofit housing providers that can use gap financing and other tools to keep the cost of the home down. But in my neighborhood, these nonprofit housing providers struggle to get their foot in the door because of the speculative prices. They have a very tight margin to work with, and if they can't purchase a property for a reasonable amount of money, then their numbers will not work. I'm personally grateful that our community is taking a look at these sorts of issues and is willing to have tough conversations about the positives and negatives of redevelopment.
  6. Interesting set of posts Speed2fast. I was part of some Wealthy Street's work about 10 years ago. The work on the streetscape went hand in hand with the residential development. Any neighborhood desires to have signature projects that create a sense of place. I'm now almost a 10 year resident of Belknap. I see the Coit Bridge as a key building block in the continued redevelopment of Belknap Lookout. Is it the only building block? No. Coit School is another key building block. The neighborhood fought hard to rehab and rebuild Coit School several years ago. The parks are additional building blocks. These projects set the tone for additional redevelopment, including residential and commercial. One of the factors the neighborhood is dealing with is that many of the properties have been purchased by speculators, investors and landlords. I know families that would love to live up here, but houses just didn't make it to the open market before they were bought up. Or they were being sold for at a price that would leave little money left over for a homeowner to make needed repairs and improvements. With the rental market where it is, I don't think there are a lot of incentives to rehab or upgrade rental homes because it is very difficult to get that return on investment. I would also say that this neighborhood has a history as a working class, affordable community. Some of the "improvements" planned for this community will mean the displacement of long-term residents either because they get forced out by increased property taxes or choose to leave because they get offered big money for their homes. Many neighbors are concerned about not being able to live in this community any more once the changes happen. We've already seen a significant loss of homeowners on particular streets. You might call this the price of progress, but the neighborhood is trying to be very deliberate about how this change will happen. I'm personally very happy that our community is slowing down and being more deliberate about the kind of investment and neighborhood we want to live in. My hope is that it continues to be a neighborhood for all people with all incomes. That might mean it looks a little "dumpy" to someone driving through "2fast" for a little longer
  7. As a participant of the meeting, I think MDOT was unprepared for the number of participants and the depth of discussion the group was willing to have. I'm glad they are looking at subcommittees to further define the corridor and bridges. Unfortunately, the question is going to be resources. And you could already feel them trying to get peoples' expectations lowered so they don't have to be the big downer. I personally hope that they are open to additional funds to make this something special. I was also disappointed that they didn't bring more to the table from groups that have been looking at this issue for over 2 years. We didn't need to start from zero last night. My other comment refers to the weave/merge lanes. I think we are all bright enough to see that this is the poor mans way of freeway expansion. Just build enough weave/merge lanes and then connect them later, and wam-bam you got yourself 4 lanes of freeway. No one puts up a big fuss because they carve it up into bite sized pieces that everyone could swallow one little lane at a time. I wish they would just do it right the first time and give people something better. We deserve better.
  8. Solar Home Tour Saturday, Oct 6 2007, 10-4 There are several Greater Grand Rapids projects on this self-guided and free home and business tour. http://www.glrea.org/events/solarBuildingT...randRapids.html On the Tour: Newberry Place Hunting YMCA WMEAC Offices Green House on Watson Calvin College Wind Turbine MAREC GVSU Muskegon ...and others
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/11/realesta...nted=1&_r=1 This came out in the NY Times Real Estate section today. EDIT: Thanks for merging my thread. It looks like I have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat Libertarian to a post
  10. I wonder where they will put the sign that says, "Welcome to the Grand Canyon" Maybe we can rent mules at the top of the hill and have them take us down to Monroe. Or they can invest in a glass floor sky walk on the 12th floor so people can venture out over the edge... OK, the wall isn't that bad, but it's not great either.
  11. City had plans for that, 13 switchbacks and very expensive...
  12. We floated all these options around and finally opted for this plan for a couple reasons: 1) Historic Preservation may work to preserve these existing, but unused stairs, originally constructed as a WPA project in the 30's 2) Where to "land" bridge on the other side? At the time, Founders was looking to move into Imperial Metals... 3) This plan moves the major ped. crossing farther North down Division for better visibility, slower speeds?, etc. 4) Combine it with a warning system like you are talking about "blinking amber light means slow down, pedestrians crossing ahead..." 5) More cost effective and to do a ped bridge right it takes a lot of money i.e. Calvin East Beltline Crossing This part of the plan can be built for about 350k MDOT was around the table as the plans were being developed, and we are in continued conversations with them as they plan for the I-196 expansion project in 2010. These bridges will need to be replaced as part of that plan, so why not replace them with something special...but the more voices asking for it, the better.
  13. The MOBL NOBL Design Charrette Results are completed and available at MOBL NOBL as well as neighborhood and project background information and articles. The goal of the MOBL NOBL (Neighbors of Belknap Lookout) initiative is to restore Belknap Lookout's rich tradition as a live-work community, encourage healthy lifestyles, and enhance neighborhood connections to adjacent jobs, entertainment, and commercial centers. Potential Projects: Restored Stairs at Newberry Ave. for connection to Monroe North Improved I-196 Overpass and Underpass connection to Pill Hill
  14. I would get used to the 1/2 billion dollar number. By the time the I-196 expansion project gets underway in 2010 and the College overpass and Michigan bridge (related but $ coming from somewhere else) get added in, I think it will even top this number.
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