Ferndale is one of 46 communities around the state participating in "It’s About Place," a contest sponsored by Let’s Save Michigan that offers funding for “placemaking” projects.
Placemaking projects are investments in public spaces for the purpose of community use. The winning participants will receive funding of up to $2,000 to build the projects they designed.
Ferndale's South 9 Pedestrian Alley is one of the projects up for consideration, and the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority is urging residents to vote daily.
The 20-foot-wide alley is a pedestrian connector located west of Woodward on the south side of Nine Mile connecting West Nine Mile and Troy Street. The DDA, as part of its downtown development plan, aims to make the space and others like it a popular gathering place for all by incorporating an accessible drinking fountain, dog tie-outs, landscaping, benches and a public art installation as part of the ARTWN Project.
"It's creating a very unique space in the middle of downtown," said Chris Hughes, communications manager with the Ferndale DDA. "Our downtown is already very friendly and walkable but anytime you can do something to increase the places where people want to gather and stay and socialize, that's always a benefit."
The contest, open to all Michigan residents, organizations, and municipal agencies, asked participants to create a design for revitalizing a currently underutilized public space and turning it into a welcoming, vibrant public place.
“We are thrilled with the quality, diversity, and creativity of the entries,” Sarah Szurpicki, project coordinator of Let’s Save Michigan, said in a news release. “I think we’re proving a point that Michiganders in cities of all sizes are desperate for this type of place-based investment in their communities. Residents in cities as different from each other as Detroit, Okemos, and Sault Ste. Marie are all eager to nurture more dynamic public spaces.”
The public is invited to vote for projects online. More than 2,000 votes have already been registered on the site. Anyone can vote once per day and for multiple entries until the voting closes on June 1.
The top 10 vote-getters will move on to the finalist round with a panel of national placemaking experts. The judges will select one grand prize winner, which will receive $2,000, and will award smaller prizes to several runners-up. It is expected that the projects will be built over the next several months.
Hughes said she hopes residents will come together to support the South 9 Pedestrian Alley project. "We could make it happen," she said.
Read more about the Ferndale project here. For more information, visit www.letssavemichigan.com or the DDA's web site.