Connecting sidewalks from Drake Park to nearby neighborhoods and downtown Farmington is one pathway improvement the new committee may look at.

Connecting sidewalks from Drake Park to nearby neighborhoods and downtown Farmington is one pathway improvement the new committee may look at.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

Farmington officials look to establish pathways committee

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published October 20, 2020


FARMINGTON — A new focus on pathways in Farmington aims to create a more connected community from the city’s farthest outlying subdivisions to its downtown core.

Farmington City Manager David Murphy announced a new pathways committee at the Sept. 21 City Council meeting. Murphy said that, at the meeting’s end, he would begin drafting bylaws with City Attorney Tom Schultz.

Connectivity and walkability have been longtime focuses for Farmington. The city’s master plan, vision plan and capital improvements plan all detail improvements for pathways around the city. Council member Maria Taylor campaigned for a walkability committee in 2017, and Murphy said more recently that the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments described a need for more bike paths in Farmington.

“The focus has been as part of a larger plan. This would be a plan of its own,” Murphy said. “We’ve got a great start, but there’s much more we can do. I think there’s some really cool things we can do and connect to.”

Taylor believes that by creating a group to specifically discuss pathways, the city will be able to more quickly pave the way for projects to get done.

“It will bring attention to them. Instead of being on page 300 of a 600-page plan, here it will be on a checklist of projects for us to work on accomplishing over the next couple of years.”

Taylor, who plans to represent the City Council on the committee, would like to see the committee tackle the smaller-scale projects first, but she said larger-scale projects, like connecting Shiawassee Park to Riley Park through the recently purchased Maxfield Training Center, won’t be ignored.

“Small-scale projects, like connecting Chatham Hills to Drake Park, may not be as big and splashy as the Farmington Road streetscape, but for the families who walk or bike that route to go play baseball or pickleball, it will be a real game changer,” she said. “If we want to be a truly walkable community, which we are making strides to do, we need to provide the opportunity for people to have a seamless connection to their neighborhoods and to other places they’d like to walk to, like downtown.”

Which is why Murphy and Taylor would like to see residents get involved.

“Ideally, it would be someone from all parts of the city. You may have somebody from Floral Park, from Chatham Hills, from the historic district and Warner Farms, so you get a cross section of the whole city,” Murphy said.

Residents not on the committee will have a voice and a say, too, Taylor said. She would like to solicit community feedback through a survey, an open house or some other applicable method.

There will likely be some minor details for the City Council to hammer out before seeking residents’ applications, but Murphy hopes to have the committee start meeting by the first of the year. The committee would begin meeting once a month, he said.

“In next year’s budget, I would like to start putting some money toward (the committee) so they could have the city’s engineers come in and help them with mapping and things like that,” Murphy said.

Overall, Taylor is hopeful the work done through this committee will show residents their city officials are listening.

“Farmington passed a city millage in 2018, and half of that was designated specifically for capital improvements or projects around the city,” she said. “Those day-to-day headaches — the  pothole at the end of their driveway, the sewers that back up, the street that floods or the sidewalk that ends and you have to walk over dirt, snow or slush — those are city infrastructure, too.

“Those types of improvements tell residents that City Council is listening to their concerns and spending tax dollars on things that will really make a difference in their day-to-day lives.”

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