By Lindsay Benson
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
The second charrette, a design and planning workshop, to revamp the East Lansing Park District was held at the Eli and Edythe Broad Museum on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
East Lansing city council selected DTN Management Co. in August as the developers of the project. Out of seven developers that responded to the city’s request for proposals and request for qualifications.
“We’re local, we’ve been here for 40 years, we do a lot of construction, we’re obviously project management, this is our bread and butter. So, we wanted to be involved with the project,” said Colin Cronin, DTN vice president.
Part of the agreement between city council and DTN was that they’d hold public meetings to hear citizens’ ideas for what to do with the district.
“It’s more of a collaboration, that we get to see that they are truly honoring what we committed to, which was a public process,” said City Manager George Lahanas.
About 45 people were expected at the first charrette on Sept. 30, but those numbers were blown out of the water when more than 80 people showed up.
The first charrette was a preliminary vision workshop. The second charrette has representatives from LSL Planning, the master planners on this project, to illustrate and render what these ideas will look like.“I want to show them what that building is going to look like. I want to show them what the street is going to look like, where the trees are going to be planted, where is a bike lane going to go,” said Rebekah Kik, a representative from LSL Planning who was helping run the work sessions on Oct. 16.
Conor Ott, Michigan State University senior and intern with the Community Relations Coalition, an outreach program through student services and East Lansing, lives in the park district. “It’s such an important part of the city, I’d like it see it revitalized,” said Ott. He also said he wants to see the district become more pedestrian friendly.
The third and final charrette on Nov. 14 will take everything from the first two, and display some examples of the concepts voiced.
“That’s going to be when we show, OK this is what you voted on, this is what you’ve told us that you liked, did we get it right?”
After the third charrette, Lahanas said, DTN must, “come back to the city with what they think is a financially viable proposal, the city will then work with them to see if all the financing works, what our obligations are and what their obligations are, and then move forward hopefully with a development agreement.”
Cronin says there are two hurdles with this project. One is the section of “homes that are in the historic district … we’ve got to work through those hoops to figure out what we can do with those houses,” said Cronin. DTN and the city will have to get a certificate of appropriateness to tear them down, modify or move them.
The second issue is making sure the city has to right to sell or transfer some of the city owned property that is part of the development plans.
The issue with the historic district homes would cause a significant change to the plans, but if the city cannot sell or transfer the land, that would kill the development.
The third charrette will take place Thursday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the East Lansing Marriott Hotel. Free tickets must be reserve from the East Lansing Park District.
According to the pre-development agreement with the city, DTN Management has until Dec. 31 to get their final site plans, building renderings and financial portfolio in to City Council.
“To do this project, in my mind, is one over all comprehensive project. To fix the Park District, and to do it once and do it right,” said Cronin.