By Austin Short
Holt Journal Staff Reporter
Delhi Charter Township has started an initiative called Realize Cedar and they are looking towards its residents for new ideas on how to improve Holt’s downtown area, specifically the triangle of Cedar Street, Holt Road and Aurelius Road.
The study has three ways people can give input; offer a big idea, prioritize goals, and answer poll questions. The former allows people to write the township. Prioritize goals lets residents of the area tell the township what is most important to them. Finally ,the poll lets citizens vote and see the results of important considerations such as retail, bike paths, larger sidewalks and restaurants.
Delhi Township Clerk Evan Hope says one of the biggest goals of the study is to create a stronger downtown identity along the three busiest streets of Holt.
“We would like to see more of a downtown feel. Right now some of the sidewalks barely have enough room for people to walk past each other. If you want a downtown feel you have to create a better streetscape design,” said Hope.
Wider sidewalks and a buffer between the roads and sidewalks are some of the ways Hope imagines bettering the streetscape.
Robert Silverman, Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at University at Buffalo said, “Sidewalks and sidewalk buffers are part of an urban design that is intended to promote walkability. For small, traditional downtowns, good planning includes these types of amenities.”
One of the goals of the Realize Cedar initiative is to hear if people care about increasing the accessibility of the main triangle, which includes not only walking but biking as well.
“My kids and I go for walks and bike a lot so my family would love to see more improvements connecting downtown that way,” said Jennifer Sailer, a resident of Holt for three years.
Hope and Silverman both agree that taking bike paths downtown is important and would bring more traffic to businesses along Cedar Street, Holt Road and Aurelius Road.
“If downtown is oriented toward small businesses, like restaurants and coffee shops, then creating a walkable, bike friendly environment can increase foot traffic and people coming to downtown for longer periods of time,” said Silverman.
Realize Cedar is a great opportunity for local citizens to pitch ideas of businesses they would like to see come to Holt. Once the study has concluded the results will be relayed to possible investors.
Hope noted that people have suggested a wider variety of restaurants besides a bar and grill type, which is easily found at a few locations in Holt.
But he also wanted to make one thing clear about Realize Cedar. “It’s not like a contest. We can’t just put a Panera into a place because people want it. It’s up to the private sector,” said Hope. “The more feedback we get the better opportunity we will have to convince developers to invest.”
Residents of Holt have also longed for more activities and places to go in town, instead of having to travel outside of town for entertainment.
“Even a small theater like you see in Grand Ledge or Charlotte. An intimate movie experience with your family would be nice,” said Lonnie Kellogg,an employee at The Coffee Barrel, who moved back to Holt three years ago.
Housing is another consideration for the study, with mid-range to higher end apartments and condos in mind, according to Hope.
“I think we have the single family home options covered. Both millennials and baby boomers are looking for housing closer to things to do,” said Hope.
People looking to shed some light on what Holt needs can find the Realize Cedar initiative on the Delhi Township website.