Douglas Considers $4.5M Blue Star Corridor Renovations
In an attempt to provide smoother flowing traffic, safe roads and walkways for pedestrians along with luring tourists downtown, Douglas City officials are considering a $4.5 million renovation to the Blue Star Highway corridor.
The Douglas City Council briefly discussed the issue at Monday night’s meeting and scheduled a special meeting for Monday, March 11, at 6 p.m. to more thoroughly mull over the proposed improvements.
Those proposed changes include paving, landscaping, additional trees and improved stormwater drainage systems.
One of the improvements that stirred discussion was roundabouts, with some council members saying they didn’t like them and expressing concerned about how the city would pay for them.
“There are a lot of opinions about roundabouts. Either you love them or you hate them,” Douglas Director of Community Development Ryan Kilpatrick told the council Monday.
Kilpatrick has long maintained that improvements to the corridor may not only entice visitors to downtown Douglas, but actually serve as means to help visitors realize downtown Douglas even exists.
To pay for the big-ticket items, Kilpatrick has mentioned Michigan Department of Transportation grants and a bond as possible funding sources that the city may be able to tap into.
In other related city business, the Douglas City Council Monday night approved the second and final reading of zoning amendments designed to establish the city guidelines for future development along Blue Star Highway as it relates to parking lots, screening and landscaping.
The objective of such amendments fits well with what city official are now considering regarding the $4.5 million renovation proposal along the corridor.
The goal, said city officials, is to provide a positive, safe experience for pedestrian and motorists alike and enhance the visual aesthetics of the streetscape.
The zoning changes calls for a reduced number of driveways and curb cuts and encourages developers to install permeable paving materials, thereby providing environmentally sustainable construction.
Douglas Council Member Greg Harvath was the only city official to vote against the amendments. He previously expressed concern that the changes were to rigid for businesses and, as such, present a barrier for business investment along the corridor.
Kilpatrick said the existing structures and businesses’ parking lots would be grandfathered in and the changes would only affect new building and lots in which the gross floor area is proposed to be enlarged or expanded by more than 50%.