Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Make the Grand Vision your own

Hans Voss & Doug Luciani - October 13th, 2008
“With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”
Abraham Lincoln said these simple, yet profound words 150 years ago, but they are just as true today – especially right here, right now in northwest lower Michigan.
Citizens from across the area are participating in an historic public process to determine our shared future. It’s called The Grand Vision and it’s the largest, most far-reaching future planning process the region has ever seen.
After four years of planning and preparation, now is the time for you and your neighbors to get involved. It’s easy. All you need to do is grab a Grand Vision “scorecard” and register your views by October 28. The result of this massive public input process will be wide consensus on a blueprint for land use and transportation for the next 50 years.

Out of controversy, comes opportunity
The Grand Vision was born out of an intense dispute over a proposal to build a highway bypass around Traverse City that included a new bridge over the Boardman River.
On one side were the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Traverse County Road Commission and others who believed the road and bridge project would alleviate traffic congestion and strengthen the local economy.
On the other side were the Michigan Land Use Institute, the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council and others who believed the project would harm the Boardman River and create a new corridor for sprawling development that, in turn, would pull more people and development away from our existing towns.
When President Lincoln made his memorable speech in 1858, the nation was on the brink of civil war. While no-one was threatening to take up arms over the Hartman-Hammond bridge, it was one of the most hotly contested and divisive issues the region had ever seen.
Even as we quarreled over a major transportation project without any sem-blance of a long-range plan for growth, we somehow knew that if we had the chance, we could find common ground. That came in 2004, when the opposing sides came together and worked with U.S. Senator Carl Levin and Congressman Dave Camp to direct $3.3 million of federal transportation dollars to launch The Grand Vision.

Collaboration leads
to change
Since then dozens of organizations, businesses and local governments have designed and advanced a process that puts the public’s voice first. Environmental advocates have joined with developers, homebuilders and realtors. Major
employers like Munson Healthcare, Elmer’s, Crystal Mountain, Interlochen Center for the Arts and Northwestern Michigan College are supporting the process and promoting public participation.
Local government officials are also deeply involved. In fact, the Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Kalkaska, and Wexford county boards are not only lending their leadership to the project they are also helping to pay for it.
It’s important to note that this type of regional collaboration rarely happens in Michigan. That’s sad, because acting as a region makes sense. First of all, our lives reach well beyond our local government borders. Many of us live in one county, work in another, and play in still a third. Acting as a region also saves badly
stretched taxpayer dollars. While we certainly want to be sure our local community is planning for our local future, the bottom line is this: A smart, cost-effective regional growth and transportation strategy fits with how people live.

Pathway to prosperity
With the country’s financial and housing markets teetering on collapse and Michigan’s economy continuing to struggle, there’s no better time to invest in a homegrown strategy for the future. Our local economy is feeling the crunch to be sure, but people continue to come here and create jobs because northwest Michigan remains a great place to live and work.
In today’s talent-driven economy, jobs are increasingly portable and employers choose their locations based on quality of life as much as anything else. College graduates are choosing where they want to live before, not after, launching a career search.
That’s good news for us, because we have so much to offer. Not too many places in America offer the same mix of stunning natural resources, vibrant downtowns, arts and culture, strong schools, and an underlying sense of community like our region.
But to achieve this economically resilient future, we must take care of this place. We need a clear blueprint created not by bureaucrats and planners, but by the people who are personally committed to the future of this place. The Grand Vision is our best chance to create this future.
While the level of support has been unprecedented, there are still naysayers who claim The Grand Vision will not amount to anything, or who say given the state of the economy, this is not the time for bold plans. We’ve listened carefully to their concerns, but we remain convinced that President Lincoln was right– a strategy based on the public’s voice will succeed in the long run.
The Michigan Land Use Institute and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce – along with everyone else involved – are committed to doing what it takes to make sure that The Grand Vision plans are implemented and produce tangible value for generations to come. We will work to make sure state agencies like the Michigan Department of Transportation invest in the transportation strategies that the citizens actually want. We’ll help local government officials adapt their zoning to promote the development citizens actually want. And we’ll continue to rally businesses and citizens to keep the pressure on until elected officials translate the vision into reality.
It’s a once-in-a-generation oppor-tunity. Please, do your part as a citizen of the region and register your voice as part of the Grand Vision.

Doug Luciani is the President and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. Hans Voss is the Executive Director of the Michigan Land Use Institute.

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