The City of Sterling Heights’ Strategic Planning efforts could be moving from a vision to reality in 2016. During the City’s annual strategic planning session Tuesday night, City administrators unveiled key placemaking components that will be integral to creating an exceptional quality of life for residents.
City Manager Mark Vanderpool began the 2016 Strategic Planning session by stressing the importance of visioning to the City’s vitality.
“By any measure, Sterling Heights has created a fantastic quality of life over the course of its first 50 years,” Vanderpool said. “The challenge is ensuring our businesses and residents that we are not only going to sustain that success, but build upon it.”
City administrators highlighted several exciting recreational, cultural and business initiatives that have great placemaking potential.
Parks & Recreation Director Kyle Langlois presented a conceptual plan that proposes multiple new venues designed to provide all residents year-round “fun.” The centerpiece is a new 100,000 square foot community center to be incorporated into the existing City Campus—currently comprised of Dodge Park, the Senior Center and the Richard J. Notte City Center—creating even more synergy for the area. This new venue will replace the 13,000 square foot recreation center originally designed as a senior citizen center and built in the 1970s to serve the City’s much smaller population. To meet the recreational needs of a City with more than 130,000 residents, the new community center will feature four multisport gymnasiums, five dedicated dance and fitness rooms, a walking track, half a dozen meeting and community gathering spaces and much more.
“This new facility will not only allow our parks and recreation department to provide better spaces for our successful programs, but there will be room to do more for residents,” Langlois said. “This community center will offer all of our residents a place to come together and participate in recreational and cultural programs. Bringing our residents together is critical to creating a sense of place.”
Langlois’ presentation highlighted other exciting placemaking projects, including a splash park, a pavilion to house the new farmers’ market, ice skating rink, skate park, mini-soccer field, and a long-awaited dog park. Langlois also emphasized the critical need to make capital improvements to the City’s five major and 26 neighborhood parks.
“Sterling Heights is home to beautiful parks that offer our residents immediate access to open green space and recreational opportunities,” Langlois said. “But after 50 years, there is a critical need to reinvest in the parks in order to maximize their benefit to our residents.”
In order to tap into this potential, Langlois highlighted the future development of the City’s nature preserve. A hike/bike trail linking the 110-acre nature preserve to Delia Park promises to create a unique recreational opportunity that few communities can match.
“The ability to hike and bike amid untouched nature in a city of our size will be an incredible draw,” said Langlois.
Mayor Michael C. Taylor agreed and said he looks forward to seeing more details of the plan moving forward.
“These proposals are the seeds for future prosperity, resulting in a lasting legacy for everyone who cares so deeply for this City,” Taylor said. “We need to have the same foresight and commitment to sustained success that the City’s leaders have demonstrated for more than 50 years. We must maintain and develop these community assets. An investment in the park system will pay dividends for many years to come by attracting new families and residents of all ages. I look forward to being a part of this ambitious and unprecedented plan.“
Vanderpool confirmed potential funding plans for the Parks & Recreation proposals are being developed and will be brought to City Council for discussion later this year.
Consulting firm Wade Trim Inc. presented research on Michigan communities of comparable size and demographics and whether or not their residents had access to indoor recreation facilities. Out of 13 communities surveyed, Sterling Heights was one of only three without an indoor recreation center. Warren, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint, Dearborn, Troy, Macomb Township and the like were among those with thousands of square feet of indoor recreation space for residents to utilize.
Other Strategic Planning presentations focused on the multi-million dollar Clinton River Rehabilitation Project, a conceptual Public Art Plan, City Center improvements, economic development plans for Lakeside Mall and the industrial corridor and a preview into the City’s semi-centennial celebration planning for 2018.
Links to all of the presentations as well as a video from Tuesday’s meeting is available on the City’s website at www.sterling-heights.net/strategicplanning. To learn more about the 2030 Visioning plan, go to www.sterling-heights.net/2030visioning.