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Community groups top survey at local Placemaking meeting

Penny Shanks, Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce director, leads a discussion at the Placemaking meeting. Photo by Andrea Beaudoin (click for larger version)
October 16, 2013 - Local leaders gathered at the Clarkston Administration building to discuss the concept of Placemaking during a presentation by the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 9.

"Placemaking is staking a claim and beautification," said Janelle Edmunds, Clarkston Chamber. "It is the act of creating great places. What makes a place great," she asked attendees during the meeting.

"It can be a park where people come together, a place you want to be," she added. She also explained key attributes to Placemaking and said places that evoke a positive emotional response that is felt by many constitutes a strong sense of place.

"It's what a community does to enhance the quality of life," said Ron Richie who serves on the Independence Township Board of Trustees and the Planning Commission.

"Everyone wants to live in a town with an identity," said Richie. He added that the township is presently in the process of reviewing the master plan, and Placemaking idea seems to helps connect the community.

Richie said Township officials are interested in engaging the community to make it a better place to work, play and live.

Parks, Recreation and Seniors Supervisor Ken Elwert said area parks and recreation is crucial to both the master plan and Placemaking and added that Placemaking is a grass roots citizen led committee.

Elwert said Placemaking can be a huge success if done correctly and said Campus Martius is a great example of success created by Placemaking.

Attendees at the meeting split into groups to identify assets in the community. Chamber Director Penny Shanks said the exercise was to identify assets and see opinions on what can be done better.

Assets identified in the various categories included Clarkston Village Players, DTE Energy Theatre, recreational spaces like golf courses and parks.

Some of the top historical assets in the community identified by attendees included historical significance of the area and the downtown historic district, the Clarkston Community Historical Society, Mill Pond and the Clarkston Mills building and Main Street in downtown Clarkston.

Suggestions also included increasing the frequency of events, increasing seasonal events and including more historical signage.

Assets identified included Clarkston's downtown, parks, schools, restaurants, athletic events and the numerous festivities including parades and activities.

Attendees were also asked to identify what they feel is missing in the area, and responses included good traffic flow, parking and good walk ability. Suggestions also included cultural events, enhancing culture and arts, and focusing on the ease of access in the area.

Shanks said offering art at different venues in the area is an idea that can be considered.

Shanks said Springfield Township needs to be celebrated too.

Placemaking is more successful if done on a regional level, so Springfield Township will also be included in the regional Placemaking Plan. "We need to create more awareness of Davisburg," said Shanks who noted that a meeting is being planned with several surrounding communities.

Fifty-two percent of voters in a poll taken during the event said the top assets in the area is community organizations, like the Clarkston Rotary.

Mike Spillum from the Clarkston Rotary Club said he found out about Placemaking from Independence Township Parks and Recreation and was asked to attend the meeting because the Rotary is involved in many projects in the area and would also like to be involved in Placemaking.

"Placemaking starts by involving people to create a common vision for the place," said Edmunds. "The goals are to invite greater interactions among people and to foster communities that are more socially, physically and economically viable."

The first public Placemaking meeting was a start.

"I love Clarkston and I just want it to be a great place to live," said Joette Kunse

For more information on Placemaking visit

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