2017 Traverse City Snapshot
By Beth Milligan | Jan. 4, 2018
From infrastructure spending to parks projects to renewable energy investment to brownfield funding, 2017’s numbers show the year was another busy one for the Traverse City region.
Three new year-end reports – including the city’s annual performance report, a summary of the city’s green team initiative, and an impact report for the Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA) – provide a revealing glimpse into activities across the region over the past year. The Ticker looks at the highlights to see how 2017 shaped up for Traverse City.
City Performance Report
Compiled by city staff to track notable areas of accomplishment and investment each year, Traverse City’s annual “The Performance” report follows countless metrics to evaluate how both individual departments and the city overall is performing. The report was unveiled at Monday’s city commission meeting by City Clerk Benjamin Marentette.
Infrastructure investment was a major category of spending for the city in 2017, according to the report. Key among the city’s projects were:
> $780,000 to reconstruct West Front Street between Division Street and Elmwood Avenue
> Over $400,000 to reconstruct Park Street and create a mid-block crosswalk at 300 East Front Street
> Close to $75,000 to refresh more than 730 pavement markings and 81 miles of street lines
> $650,000 to convert overhead power lines to underground lines to protect nearby mature trees and provide easier access to utilities
> Over $765,000 in pavement preservation and $420,000 sidewalk and replacement and gap infill projects
> Other key projects included using $2 million in grant funds to survey the city’s underground stormwater and wastewater systems, reconstructing downtown’s parking lot D and Boardman River boat launch, conducting biking and walking audits for Safe Routes to School for all ten K-8 schools in the city, and installing a new footbridge at the Brown Bridge Quiet Area.
According to a memo from City Manager Marty Colburn and Mayor Jim Carruthers, in total the city “allocated close to $4,000,000 to improve city sidewalks, repair city streets, and complete other infrastructure projects in order to increase the walkability, health and safety of the community for our citizens and our visitors."
The Performance also sheds light on the day-to-day operations of city departments, businesses and residents. Among some notable figures for 2017:
> The city issued 25 mobile food vendor permits, 24 sidewalk café permits, 132 liquor licenses, and more than 50 special event permits
> The city addressed over 350 code enforcement complaints, conducted more than 500 rental housing inspections, processed over 2,500 voter registration transactions, and appointed more than 40 residents to city boards/committees
> The water treatment plant provided over 1.95 billion gallons of drinking water to the city and surrounding townships
> City crews plowed snow on 76 miles of city streets, 25 miles of public alleys, 72 miles of city sidewalk and 4.6 miles of bike trails – an effort requiring 1,000 tons of bulk salt and 2,000 tons of road sand
> Staff cleaned 13 miles and televised 10 miles of sewer pipeline and responded to over 70 emergency sewer back-up calls; the city also committed over $2 million to construct a two-million gallon water reservoir at the Barlow Water Treatment site and $400,000 to repair the Department of Public Services building
> The city sold over $566,000 in downtown gift certificates in 2017.
Also of note for the year: Traverse City won the 2017 Strongest Town contest and was named the #1 Best Foodie Town in the Midwest by RewardExpert, the #4 Beach Town To Live In by WalletHub, and the Prettiest Town in Michigan by MSN’s Daily Meal. The city also scored 86 out of 100 – up from 75 in 2016 – on the Municipal Equality Index rating non-discrimination laws and the city’s public position on equality, a score that was boosted by the Traverse City Police Department’s first-ever appointment of a LGBTQ Police Office Liaison.
Green Team Report
In December 2016, Traverse City commissioners passed a resolution to meet 100 percent of the electricity demand for city operations with clean, renewable energy sources by 2020. For the past year, a Green Team comprised of city department heads, commissioners and community representatives has met regularly to develop a plan to meet that goal, as well as study potential sustainability projects and lay the groundwork for the city to become carbon-neutral by mid-century.
According to a year-end report provided by the team, among the group’s accomplishments in 2017 was obtaining a $45,000 grant from Rotary Charities to support clean energy initiatives in the city, benchmarking city energy, electricity and natural gas usage, and developing a municipal “green rate” for purchasing solar energy as part of a deal with Heritage Sustainable Energy. City buildings were evaluated in terms of their energy efficiency, with upgrades made including installing LED lighting at the water treatment plant, adding light timers at city pickleball courts and obtaining a $3,000 mini-grant to update the lighting at Clinch Park Marina. The city saved more than 2.4 million kilowatt hours through energy smart programs in 2017.
Brownfield Impact Report
Finally, a new report released by the Grand Traverse County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA) aims to demonstrate the impact the program has had since its inception in 1997 through its 20-year mark in 2017.
According to the report, an estimated $88 million in local, state and federal brownfield incentives has lead to $455 million in private investment in the Traverse City area in the last two decades, or a total $543 million. There have been 23 projects in the BRA to date, five of which have been fully completed. The nearly two dozen projects have generated a combined increase of nearly $127 million in new taxable property value, creating 1,870 full-time and 136 part-time jobs. An estimated 380 acres of has been assessed or cleaned up through the BRA; the report estimates that by reutilizing existing land for new development, over 1,350 acres of land was protected from sprawl construction. For every dollar of public brownfield funding invested in the community, there has been average of $5.20 in private investment, the report concludes.
“The question I hope citizens ask after reading this report is how do we use the program next to take on community issues, including everything from affordable housing to new public spaces,” says BRA Executive Director and Grand Traverse County Interim Deputy Administrator Jean Derenzy. “I believe our community should be proud of its accomplishments and will remain committed to redevelopment.”