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Orchard Lake/10 Mile workshop draws out residents’ ideas

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published March 25, 2015

 Kevin Christiansen, Farmington Economic and Community Development director, helps residents gather ideas about 10 Mile and Orchard Lake Road March 19 at Farmington Hills City Hall.

Kevin Christiansen, Farmington Economic and Community Development director, helps residents gather ideas about 10 Mile and Orchard Lake Road March 19 at Farmington Hills City Hall.

Photos by Patricia O’Blenes

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FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS  — Longtime Farmington Hills resident Steve Kaercher practically resides at Orchard Lake Road and 10 Mile Road.

From visiting his dentist and eye doctor to getting his morning cup of joe at the Shell gas station, he knows his way around, so it was only fitting that the 18-year resident tell city officials and representatives what was on his mind regarding potential intersection redevelopment.

“I live right down 10 Mile Road, and what I would like to see is a full-service grocery store,” Kaercher said. “But then along with that, I would like to see more green area; I always walk. It would be nice to see a little park off the corner of Orchard Lake and 10 Mile Road. There really is no place on that corner you can really hang out at in the summer.”

During an Orchard Lake/10 Mile intersection design workshop March 19 at Farmington Hills City Hall, dozens of denizens came out to sketch out their plans for the intersection’s potential redevelopment during breakout sessions, along with city staff and representatives from the Michigan Municipal League and Lawrence Technological University.

“With the number of people here, the ideas show that people are interested,” Kaercher said. 

“This is a great opportunity to help reimagine another important area of our community in a way that supports the needs and interests of today’s residents and businesses, as well as tomorrow’s,” Nate Geinzer, assistant to the Farmington Hills city manager, said in a press release.

Michael Tobin, president of Farmington Hills-based Group Five Management Co., said that as a business owner, he was open to many of the ideas at the meeting.

“I am one of the local businesses, but we don’t get many visitors,” Tobin said. “I walk the intersection and walk to all the restaurants when I go to lunch. We are staying in the 10 Mile and Orchard Lake area. I really like it there, but you could always improve.”

During the event, Mark Stec, Farmington Hills staff planner in the Department of Planning and Community Development, said there could be some redevelopment or some streetscape work at the intersection, and it starts with learning what residents want.

“What we’re hoping to get out of this is these are residents in the area ... and we’re giving them a little bit of an opportunity to have fun … and solicit their ideas for this area. (We’ll) see what happens,” Stec said. 

Near the end of the design phase, leaders from six groups discussed their ideas for the Orchard Lake and 10 Mile intersection. Some ideas ranged from adding walking paths to increase pedestrian networks to creating a boulevard.

One group wanted to see an ice cream parlor near Greene’s Hamburgers, 24155 Orchard Lake Road in Farmington.

Another group focused on how there are “too many curb cuts,” which negatively impacts traffic flow and causes congestion. The group would like to see wider pedestrian bike paths.

Farmington Hills resident and attendee Brian Rippon said during the event that the Orchard Lake and 10 Mile intersection is a “little bit long in the tooth.”

“It needs some upgrades,” Rippon said. “I was here years ago, and it was a little more friendly, with the restaurants, and now it is a place that people drive through and it is not a destination. I live close enough where I would love to have a destination … with a coffee shop or something that made it more than an ‘X’ on the map.”

Rippon added that some of the neighborhoods near the intersection need to be updated, too.

“We can do a better job of making it look like a city you want to come to. We’re allowed to be as wild as we want,” Rippon said of design ideas.

Farmington Hills and Farmington are among a group of Michigan cities chosen through the MML’s PlacePlans Program to receive technical assistance designed to attract and retain residents and employers, according to a release. The Farmington community will have help in coordinating a design plan for the 10 Mile and Orchard Lake area, a joint effort between the MML and Michigan State University that helps communities design and plan for placemaking projects.

PlacePlans is supported by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and Gov. Rick Snyder’s MIplace Partnership, according to the release.

During a mid-March media briefing, Geinzer discussed how the cities have worked with the MML and LTU since the fall.

A team from LTU spent the last few months studying the existing conditions of the intersection and the neighborhoods that surround it, according to a press release.

He said the goal is to try to address what the residents are interested in and what they want to see developed in that area.

A recent survey of businesses and residents, still open to the public, shows that many are interested in pedestrian- and bike-friendly paths.

About 1,000 surveys were sent out; 150 people responded.

Kevin Christiansen, Farmington’s economic and community development director, said during the event that as a Farmington resident, he loves his town. Others do, too, and everyone wants to make it better.

“These are your ideas,” he said. “This is your time to do some ideas.”

Geinzer added that those involved want to walk away with “rich, genuine information to share with everybody soon.”

“We want to understand if you think something is missing. We want to understand,” Geinzer said.

Adjacent to Orchard Lake and 10 Mile are existing neighborhoods that don’t have a link or connection, he added.

“We’re trying to find what the residents and business owners would like to see,” Christiansen said.

Because the project is in its early stages, there is no budget.

For more information about the 10 Mile and Orchard Lake PlacePlans project, and upcoming meetings, contact Geinzer at (248) 871-2507 or at ngeinzer@fhgov.com, or contact Christiansen at (248) 474-5500, ext. 2226, or kchristiansen@ci.farmington.mi.us.

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