HANCOCK – Planners putting together Hancock’s master plan presented their findings from an open house held last month at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting.
About 50 people used stickers and notes at several stations to express their opinions on the issues presented during the two-hour session.
James Kilborn of the Grand Rapids-based company Progressive AE, went through the results and talked about the changes that have been made from the 2018 master plan.
Residents agreed on many points of the vision, goals and objectives, while putting up stickers in many areas showing strong opposition. Kilborn recommended giving up one goal – “Introduce new parking strategies such as mapping existing parking spaces and considering shared parking” – where the responses are evenly scattered across the spectrum.
“A lot of people were on the fence, so I think we should go ahead and get this one out,” Kilborn said.
Other goals, such as improving connectivity between neighborhoods and a transit system, saw disagreement but were still approved, Kilborn said. Some of the residents were concerned about having snowmobiles in residential areas, he said.
Another activity saw citizens express what they would like to see in Hancock. The most popular choice was the pedestrian crossing. The stickers were mostly placed on Quincy Street, and others on Hancock and White streets.
Other popular choices were housing – mostly in old Finlandia buildings – and traffic.
In a district that runs on urban streets, people thought that speeding was speeding and that crossing the street was an urban problem. Urban mobility is also exacerbated by trucking, which can clog up traffic lanes. Residents were mixed on whether downtown parking was a problem, and whether more was needed.
Kilborn also discussed how the system will change from the 2018 version.
In a section on future land use, community input will be included in the Hancock City discussion, along with revitalization strategies and case studies from other communities. Public comments will also be used to supplement the discussions on the water access and communication plan.
The new documentary will also discuss Hancock’s status as a Winter City, as well as ways to embrace the four seasons. Kilborn listed Edmonton, Canada as a city that has successfully made winter a big part of its identity.
“We want to leave behind what has been successful in other areas, and we want to incorporate it into the reforms of this system,” Kilborn said.
Residents were also asked what sustainability means to them. He praised renewable energy sources, reducing dependence on cars for transportation and mass transit. They also helped with household chores such as recycling, composting, and reducing the amount of water and energy they used.
“I find that a lot of people are interested not only in community gardens, but also in landscaping that focuses on water,” he said. Kilborn said.
Sustainability, which is the focus of the 2018 master plan, will be updated with additional content, either text or images, Kilborn said.
Ideas for the park, which Hancock bought earlier this year, included a recreational playground, indoor fitness and meeting space, and child care.
The schedule will also be updated to reflect events since the last schedule, such as the Father’s Day Flood and the closure of Finlandia.
Later in the meeting, the Planning Commission revised its future plan for the commission to review and approve the new plan before the December city council meeting. The next meeting will be held on Dec. 5. It replaces both the November meeting and the December meeting, which was regularly scheduled for Christmas.