Four-day charrette sets the stage for Ypsilanti Township’s master plan
In October, our readers learned about charrettes from Lauren Carlson. In October we used an array of charrette tools to help Ypsilanti Township develop its new master plan – a vision for 2040. Ben Carlisle, Tyler Lasser, Megan Masson-Minock and Chris Nordstrom managed the process.
They spent four days listening to people who live or do business in the township. Almost 200 people participated in one of the seven events.
The process began with an opening celebration, featuring a panel of residents who have lived in the township between six and 50 years.
“We collect a lot of data in our work, but it is the human stories that inspire us,” said Ben Carlisle. “The opening ceremony put a face on the township and reminded us that a master plan isn’t about streets and buildings, it’s about people.”
The team hosted an open studio for people to drop in and share their opinions with planners. The studio was guided by three questions: What do you like about your neighborhood? What do you want to see improved? What do you want to see changed?
They held a youth forum and led bus tours to a farm, the nearly-vacant Gault Village Shopping Center and the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run Airport. On the fourth day adult participants met for a happy hour featuring kombucha tea and in a closing celebration where they summarized what they’d learned.
Our team distilled the results into six themes that will drive the development of the master plan.
1. Neighborhoods are the heart of the community.
2. Physical connections. Ford Lake and I 94 divide the township, especially affecting people who want to or must use non-motorized transportation.
3. Accessibility to needs and services. The township lacks shopping, dining and other essential services. "The whole township is under-coffeed," Megan said, since many participants wished for local coffee shops.
4. Impact of land use continuation. Single family residential development in the southern half of the township will strain infrastructure and sacrifice open space and agriculture
5. American Center for Mobility. The center is isolated from the township, but its presence there can create jobs and attract retail and services catering to its employees. "As ACM develops, we don't want workers and visitors to go there to work and leave at the end of the day,"Ben said. "We want them to stay in the township, but where do we want them to go?”
6. Gault Village. Participants imagined how the under-used shopping center might be reconfigured or entirely redeveloped.
Top photo: From left, Charlotte Wilson, planning & development coordinator, Ypsilanti Township; Tyler Lasser, CWA; Megan Masson-Minock, CWA; Ben Carlisle, CWA; Crystal Campbell, community engagement coordinator, Ypsilanti Township; Chris Nordstrom, CWA, and Sara Jo Shipley, economic development director, Ypsilanti Township. Bottom photo: Informal engagement.