‘5-5-5 Plan’ announced for improving quality of life

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published January 17, 2020

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MADISON HEIGHTS — Two members of the Madison Heights City Council have announced a plan to improve quality of life in the city. The plan has five categories — parks, library, programs, arts and environment — and there are five goals in each category, to be completed within five years.

The so-called “5-5-5 Plan” was created by council members Mark Bliss and Emily Rohrbach, based upon feedback from a town hall meeting they co-hosted at the end of 2019.

“We wanted to do a quality-of-life-focused brainstorming session with residents in an effort to better inform our thoughts moving into the strategic planning process,” Bliss said. “This is an area that has been under-prioritized for years, and I see the town hall and our 5-5-5 Plan as a great opportunity to breathe new life into the city.”

For the parks, the goals include a splash pad, replacing or adding three new playscapes, upgrading bathroom access, adding active adult exercise and leisure equipment at each park, and creating partnerships and promotions with other cities for new recreation opportunities.

For the library, the goals are making Sunday hours permanent, updating and expanding the toys and books collection in the kids area, adding a 3D printer, increasing programs such as book clubs and storytimes by at least 20%, and adding relaxed indoor/outdoor seating areas.

For general programs, the plan aims to add a second annual Festival in the Park, start an annual Movie in the Park program, increase programming in the city for children ages 0-6 by at least 20%, add at least five additional “maker classes,” and create at least five new self-led, open-ended interactive parks programs.

For the arts, the goals include placing a small mural in every park; creating an annual public art expo or fair; adding functional art across the city — such as benches, bus stops, trash cans and bike racks; creating an annual DDA arts board collaboration event in the downtown; and helping to place at least five outdoor public art pieces at businesses on main roads.

And in the environmental category, the goals are planting at least 250 new trees, building a community garden in the form of a raised bed, creating a new pocket park in the south end of town, creating a native plant/seed exchange, and identifying and implementing at least three new environmental policies or ordinance updates.

Bliss shared his thoughts on some ideas that stood out to him.

“A splash pad has been one of the most requested park additions in every survey or town hall that I’ve been a part of since I joined council, which is why I’ve been championing it every year,” he said. “It will be a great addition to our parks system, and I am excited to implement it in our city, ideally through a public-private partnership that limits the city’s costs while still providing this popular park feature to our residents.”

Regarding the idea of a second festival, Bliss said it’s not without precedent, since the city used to hold three large festivals each year before reducing them to one. And with regard to relaxed indoor and outdoor seating at the library, Bliss said it speaks to how people utilize that space.

“Not only does our plan add more children’s toys and books, it also includes the addition of both indoor and outdoor furniture like couches and patio furniture that will attract visitors and create a much more relaxed environment to enjoy all that the library has to offer,” Bliss said.

Rohrbach said she’s most excited about the addition of functional art in the city, as well as the hundreds of new trees that will be planted.

“For the functional art, we want to see more benches at bus stops throughout the city, but not just any benches. We can partner with local artists and businesses to make these benches unique and beautiful,” Rohrbach said. “If we’re successful, instead of seeing a half-dozen tipped-over shopping carts at a bus stop, you’ll see a lovely piece of art. What a difference that will make in how our city presents itself.

“As for the trees, planting more trees in neighborhoods is an important way that we can help make our neighborhoods safer, raise property values, decrease energy usage in our homes, and make our air and groundwater cleaner,” she said. “What higher calling do we have than to help improve the lives of the people of this city?”

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