City unveils new logo, ‘placemaking’ ideas

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 5, 2015

A fully seated Sterling Heights City Council got down to business Jan. 27 to unveil a new city logo and to discuss strategic planning for the year ahead on multiple “placemaking” attractions and improvements.

City officials looked to their 2030 Visioning Plan that was created in 2014 and mentioned some of the guiding principles and vision statement. The city’s vision statement calls for a “vibrant, inclusive community for residents and businesses that is safe, active, progressive and distinctive,” and the principles highlight things like recreation opportunities, destination spots, green spaces, commercial centers and more.

At the Jan. 27 meeting, City Manager Mark Vanderpool said the “placemaking” projects that are being discussed are just the beginning for building the future of Sterling Heights.

“These are projects that are tangible, that are ready to go,” he said.

]The meeting started off with a discussion of a rebranding effort and a logo change that is intended to replace the longstanding, rectangular “S” and “H” logo.

Bill Kleist, from the consulting firm Identity Creative, explained that the new logo is a Reuleaux triangle with a squiggle inside that can represent an “S,” an “H” or a part of the Clinton River. The logo shape can be compared to a shield, a mountain or an arrow, he said. A compact slogan accompanied the new logo: “Innovating Living.”

“This final shape … embodies the central piece of the 2030 vision for the city of Sterling Heights,” Kleist said.

Dan Gilmartin, executive director and CEO of the Michigan Municipal League, talked about the importance of placemaking, or making a city an attractive area in which people want to live, a place that feels like their own. He explained that a place’s authenticity is important because residency decisions are less centered around a particular industry than in the past.

Gilmartin said research shows people are drawn to cities and places to live based on factors such as walkability, entrepreneurship, cultural economic development and green initiatives.

“Again, you don’t see taxes on here. You don’t see regulations on here,” Gilmartin said. “You see all the quality-of-life issues that are showing up more and more as economic issues as we move throughout it.”

Recreation Manager Kyle Langlois explained the city’s upcoming plans for a farmers market in Dodge Park between June and October. He also talked about a proposal to build a disc golf course at South Nelson Park, as well as a potential dog park elsewhere.

According to city officials, other projects the city has its eye on include improvements to the North Van Dyke River District, and the City Center parking lot and exterior. Officials also said road reconstruction will occur on Van Dyke Avenue in 2015 and Dodge Park in 2016.

Some residents criticized the costs involved with changing the logo. Resident Jeffrey Norgrove said he thought replacing letterhead and signage is a waste and that “it makes no sense to spend taxpayer money changing something that’s not broken.”

Norgrove also believed that the other changes were based on assumptions that the economy would stay strong.

“We need to be very careful how we’re spending our money,” he said. “Like I said, we’re one disaster away from it all going away.”

Mayor Pro Tem Doug Skrzyniarz said Sterling Heights is competing with a lot of other cities across Michigan. He also praised the new logo.

“I think it looks fresh, looks new, looks good, looks clean,” he said.

Councilwoman Deanna Koski criticized the new logo, adding that it looked like a triangular one that she said the city once had.

“I would prefer to keep the one that we have,” she said.

After the meeting, Sterling Heights Finance and Budget Director Brian Baker said it cost about $8,000 to hire Identity Creative for the new logo and slogan. Baker said the transitioning of the logo would be done on “a gradual basis” as new supplies and equipment are needed.

“It’s not anything we’re doing wholesale,” he said.

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