Midland moves closer to renovations of Downtown streetscape

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MIDLAND (WJRT) - (7/27/16) - After 25 years the city of Midland is ready to make some real changes to its downtown; changes that not only make it more pedestrian friendly, but also welcoming to new businesses.

It may be a quiet Wednesday night on Main Street in Midland, but big changes are coming. Downtown business owner Craig Schripsema is ready to see some new life.

"Right now it's dated. At one time, it was great. I like the greenery, I like the flowers. They do a nice job with that, but there's a lot of issues with accessibility," he said.

That's one thing the city of Midland wants to fix with its Downtown Streetscape renovation. The project targets several blocks along Main Street. Lori Singleton of Smith Group JJR is one of the landscape architects trying to figure out how to shift the focus from regular traffic to foot traffic.

"There's quite a bit of the street that's dedicated to cars moving and parking. We're shifting that a little bit especially in the main central three blocks," she said.

Singleton spent Wednesday evening at Midland City Hall for the third public input session...where she presented the latest drafts. Right now the plan includes areas for street fairs and cafes, different types of parking and possibly trading in traffic signals for four-way stops.

"We've had a lot of collaboration (and) a lot of really great input," said Singleton.

And in the coming weeks as the plan is finalized, city Community Affairs Director Selina Tisdale will work to get the roughly $7 million needed to fund it.

"We're working with the philanthropic community prior to starting this process. They're all eager to help out bringing the funding so that will be our next step as we go into our second phase of this project," said Tisdale.

The hope is to start construction sometime in the Spring of next year and from there, everything should move pretty quickly...finishing the project by the end of construction season.

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