Traverse City’s 2017 Numbers
By Beth Milligan | March 10, 2018
How many pounds of fresh cherries are sold during the National Cherry Festival? What is the total number of 911 calls Grand Traverse Dispatch receives in a year? How many vendors participate in the Sara Hardy Farmers Market each season? Can you guess the number of gallons of drinking water city and surrounding township residents go through in a year?
Each of these figures can tell you a lot about the local community – and are just some of the numbers compiled each year by groups like the National Cherry Festival, Grand Traverse Dispatch, Downtown Development Authority, and Traverse City Municipal Utilities Department. Each of those organizations recently released their 2017 year-end reports, providing an opportunity to take a unique look at Traverse City “by the numbers.”
National Cherry Festival
It’s no surprise that cherries take center stage at the National Cherry Festival. According to event organizers, the event sold nearly 20,000 pounds of fresh cherries in 2017, as well as 1,773 cherry pies. Kids were able to get in on the cherry pie action, too: NCF taught 1,112 children how to make their own pie at last year’s festival. Vendors, meanwhile, offered over 100 different types of cherry products for purchase in the NCF market.
A festival offering 120 free events over the course of one week – as NCF did in 2017 – takes a lot of manpower to make possible. Over 2,000 volunteers put in a combined 45,000 hours at last year’s event, which generated enough revenues to distribute $15,500 in scholarships and $47,325 in charitable donations. Their hard work paid off: NCF swept the International Festivals & Events Association awards in the categories in which it was competing in 2017, taking home gold for best organization website (which attracted over 1.8 million visitors last year), best emergency preparedness and risk management plan for an event, and best green program. At least 2.25 tons of Cherry Festival waste was composted last year, with American Waste recycling another 69,240 pounds. All told, 92.5 percent of festival waste was diverted from landfills during last year’s event.
As part of its 2017 report, the National Cherry Festival highlighted several events on deck for the 2018 festival, scheduled for June 30-July 7. In addition to appearances by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, this summer’s event will feature the return of the popular Cherryland Band Classic, a new Great American Duck Race, and a “Very Cherry Flying Pancake Breakfast,” in addition to its long roster of returning events and musical performances.
Downtown Traverse City
Parking is a constant topic of discussion in downtown Traverse City – with good reason. With nearly 5,000 employees and 3.2 million visitors, demand for the 3,500 public and private parking spaces downtown remains high. In 2017, the Traverse City Parking System issued nearly 1,300 annual permits, 6,016 daily permits, 718 quarterly permits, and 677 monthly permits. The TCPS spent over $143,000 on plowing parking lots and sidewalks downtown in the 2016-17 winter season as part of its management of over $20 million in parking facilities, including both downtown garages. TCPS – which is a self-sustaining enterprise fund, covering its own expenses and also generating nearly $324,000 for the city’s general fund last fiscal year – also provided over 150 bike racks in 2017 in addition to traditional vehicle parking.
While parking remains an ongoing challenge, it doesn’t appear to stop both residents and visitors from spending their hard-earned dollars downtown – whether at downtown merchants, downtown events, or the Sara Hardy Farmers Market. 2017 was a record year for downtown gift certificate sales, with over $600,000 sold – an increase over 2016’s $566,000 in sales. Almost half of those sales, 46 percent, came in the month of December alone. December also saw a boost in downtown event attendance, with over 8,000 attendees coming out for the inaugural Downtown Light Parade in 2017. Another 2,000 people visited 23 businesses for the first-ever Cocoa Crawl, while 31 merchants participated in the new window display competition Walking in a Window Winterland.
With 108 vendors, the Sara Hardy Farmers Market remains one of the largest markets in Michigan. A 2017 report found that 126 businesses are supported by the market throughout the season, with farmers using more than 7,000 acres of diversified production farmland. Produce and food items sold at the market also help benefit local families in need: Nearly $31,000 in food assistance programs were processed at the market throughout the season.
Grand Traverse 911
2017 marked a slightly quieter year for local dispatchers than 2016. The Grand Traverse 911 Dispatch Center had a total of 125,581 phone transactions in 2017 – down from 128,632 in 2016. That 2017 figured included 39,564 911 calls (other categories included non-emergency calls and outgoing calls). That represents an average of 108 911 calls per day, down from 112 in 2016. Local dispatchers answered those calls quickly: Grand Traverse 911 exceeded the National Emergency Number Association standard for responding to 911 calls (answering 90 percent of all calls within 10 seconds) by answering 96.9 percent of calls within the 10-second timeframe. The center’s average answer time for 911 calls was just three seconds.
While the number of 911 calls may vary from year-to-year, at least some aspects of dispatching tend to remain consistent in Traverse City. Department data shows the busiest month of the year in both 2016 and 2017 was July, while the slowest month was in late winter/early spring (March in 2016, February in 2017). The time slot of 3pm-4pm was the busiest for calls in both years, while the dispatch center was quietest from 4am-5am both years.
Meanwhile, after Grand Traverse 911 launched a new text-to-911 service at the end of June, the dispatch center handled 58 text-to-911 messages during the first six months the program was live through the end of 2017.
Traverse City Municipal Utilities Department
It’s easy to take clean water for granted in northern Michigan, but as the city’s municipal utilities department report shows, considerable time and money goes into providing safe drinking water and managing wastewater for the region. The city’s water plant division produced just under 2 billion gallons in drinking water for city and Garfield, Elmwood, and Peninsula township residents in 2017. As part of that program, the division completed between 50 and 75 water quality tests per week and conducted monthly raw-water testing in East Bay (the city’s drinking water source).
Municipal Utilities also maintained 120 miles of pressurized water mains, 80 miles of sanitary sewer mains, 3,000 water system valves, 1,000 fire hydrants, 7,200 water meters, and 2,000 manholes in 2017. The department responded to more than 525 water service turn-on/turn-off requests, 350 service calls, 76 sewer calls, 3,350 Miss Dig responses, and six water and sewer main breaks. As part of an effort to replace old lead connections in the city, city staff and contractors also swapped out 36 lead gooseneck water service connections with more modern, safer connections in 2017, according to the department report.
Photo Credit: National Cherry Festival