Traverse City Takes Next Steps in Master Plan Process

“This is one major milestone and probably another year’s worth of community engagement.” - Shawn Winter

Results of a recent community survey are now complete, as Traverse City is working towards building a new Master Plan.

Leaders at City Hall launched the effort this summer. The idea of a Master Plan is to create a vision of what the community members want to see, and what’s needed to get there. Traverse City County Building

“It’s been surprising how few people actually know what a Master Plan is. So why would they come and participate if they don’t know what they’re participating in?” Traverse City Planner Shawn Winter says.

The idea of a Master Plan is fairly common for cities, and they are re-evaluated every 10-15 years. In Traverse City it’s time to do it again.

“It really is intended to create that broad view of the community and the vision of the community for the long run,” says Traverse City Manager Marty Colburn.

A recent survey brought in almost 2,000 responses, from city residents and non-residents alike. Numbers one and two on the priority list: infrastructure like water and sewer and protecting natural resources.

“It seems to be that the public at large is consistent in their value of maintaining our water, our sanitary and our storm infrastructure,” Winter says.

“There’s certain innate things about Traverse City that people see and enjoy and want to either move forward on or try to protect. And natural resources are one of the things we try to protect,” And Colburn adds.

Numbers three, four and five included protecting neighborhoods, managing streets and non-motorized infrastructure, and preserving Traverse City’s history and culture. But the survey results also left leaders wanting more.

“Survey responses, which we had over 1900, were skewed to an older demographic. More so than what our population represents. And our 20-24 year old age bracket was fairly underrepresented. (That’s) still not representative of what we have living here in Traverse City,” Winter says.

The initial survey is already complete and the city has tabulated those results. Up next the city will be going to high schools and talking to teenagers about their views for the future of Traverse City.

And there’s also going to be an open house coming up on Wednesday at the Hagerty Center (715 E Front St, Traverse City) from 3 p.m. -7 p.m.

“We reached out and tried to get more of the youth to get involved and participate and I know some did. And we continue for them to continue to step up and be engaged,” Colburn says.

Traverse City Logo“We did have a popup engagement event last week at the high school and we are reaching out to some of the government teachers to get into the classrooms and talk about what the Master Plan is and inform students in that process,” Winter says. “These are the people we’re planning for. These are the people when we talk about that 20 year vision. They’re going to be living that 20 year vision when they graduate high school and hopefully stay in our communities. We want to make sure we’re meeting their needs moving into the future as well.”

As for Wednesday’s Open House: it’s open to everyone.

“Please participate. There’s going to be many opportunities. And participate as often as you can…. It gets molded as we go along. So hopefully people get the message that we’re encouraging them to participate,” Colburn says.

There will be another online survey launched in November, in addition to more listening sessions. The city is in Phase two of a five-step process.

“We’ll then be going back to the public and asking them once we do, ‘are we getting this right? Are we hearing you correctly?’” Winter says.

The ultimate goal is to fine tune things along the way – and adopt the new Master Plan about a year from now. Winter says it’s not just the overall Master Plan, but also the “Mobility Action Plan” to address transportation issues. You can learn more about that by clicking here.

To see results from the first survey, click here.