Bicycle facilities


A public health crisis resulted in a pioneering GIS project

By Charlotte Wilson

Water (blue) & sewer (red) lines in Sylvan Township. Click to enlarge.

Water (blue) & sewer (red) lines in Sylvan Township. (Draft. Subject to change) Click to enlarge.

After an outbreak of hepatitis caused by a sudden sewage pipe burst in 1984, Kenton County, KY came to the unpleasant realization that their infrastructure had not been mapped. Over 30 years the county blazed a trail and is now a respected model of best practices in geographic information systems (GIS).

Many of today’s communities face Kenton County’s dilemma. When the Flint water crises hit, other Michigan cities woke to the potential problem and couldn’t find out if their own pipes contained lead. While you may never have a crisis like Kenton County, mapping your infrastructure provides important support for planning, public health, safety, maintenance, and replacement. It can give you visual tools to explain your community’s infrastructure needs and gain public support for your repair and replacement plans.

The attached maps display the sanitary sewer and water maps from our client Sylvan Township. As an addition to their master plan, the township now has an additional resource to aid in planning future developments. (These maps are drafts and are subject to change in the final master plan.)

(Contact Charlotte for information about Carlisle/Wortman Associates’ GIS services.)

Public art project brightens downtown Ann Arbor

power-art-webAt Carlisle/Wortman Associates we understand the importance of public art in a community and we also understand the need for infrastructure. So it was a no-brainer for us to support PowerArt!, a collaboration between the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, the Public Art Commission and the Arts Alliance. The project covers traffic boxes in downtown Ann Arbor with vinyl, printed art reproductions by local artists. Considered public art or an urban canvas the traffic boxes contribute colorful, eye-catching fun to downtown while discouraging flyer-posters and graffiti artists from covering the boxes. You’ll find our powered-up box at the corner of Ashley and Washington.

Changes in recreation demand align with placemaking in Michigan

two cyclist mountainbiker during a race in the woods“People choose to settle in places that offer the amenities, social and professional networks, resources and opportunities to support thriving lifestyles. Michigan can attract and retain talent – especially young, knowledge-based talent – by focusing on how best to take advantage of the unique placemaking assets of our regional communities,” says the State of Michigan’s website.

For the past six years the state’s planning and economic development teams have focused their resources on creating attractive, healthy places to live and work. At the same time, the forms of recreation that are expanding are those favored by the very millennials placemaking targets. “Think REI instead of Cabela’s,” says this Bridge Magazine article.

Bridge reports that since 2009, the number of resident hunters in Michigan dropped 10 percent and the number of fishing licenses fell by a third.

“It is a different mentality,” said Brad Garmon of the Michigan Environmental Council. “The hunting and fishing generation was a lot about family, going away to deer camp together. The millennial generation is much more about weaving activities into their daily life.” Those activities include hiking, climbing, mountain biking, paddleboarding, geocaching and kayaking.

The city of Marquette targets mountain bikers and, yes, surfers. Alpena promotes shipwreck diving, Tawas provides ideal winds for kiteboarders. If Grand Rapids can gain the necessary federal approvals, changes to the downtown portion of the Grand River could result in $16 to $19 million in annual economic impact from water tourism.

California photo essay

By Charlotte Wilson

When I travel, I’m always on the lookout for examples of good planning. While visiting in Davis, CA I spotted an innovative low-impact development drain and a parklet created by three businesses in parking spaces they licensed from the city. (Click on images to enlarge them).


Aging in Places