Ypsilanti Township hosts four-day master plan workshop, seeks public input

What will it take for Ypsilanti Charter Township to retain existing residents and attract new ones? 

That is the central question being addressed during a four-day master plan workshop, Ypsilanti Township 2040, taking place Oct. 16-19. 

Most of the events will be held at Ypsilanti Township Community Center, 2025 E. Clark Rd., but three tours and a happy hour will be held at other locations.

The four-day workshop kicks off with an "open studio" from 1-4 p.m. Oct. 16, followed by opening ceremonies from 6:30-8 p.m., including a panel of residents sharing stories about living in the township.

Ypsi Township Community Engagement Coordinator Crystal S. Campbell moderates the opening day's panel. She reached out to 28 neighborhood watch groups in the township looking for speakers, ranging from a life-long resident to someone who chose to move to the township and had been here for a decade or more, to a newer transplant, so each of them could discuss their perspective on the township.

Open studio hours are scheduled on all four days, and Campbell says that residents can drop in during any one of them to leave suggestions for township officials.

The second day starts with a tour of the American Center for Mobility, followed by open studio hours. It concludes with a happy hour at Unity Vibrations, 93 Ecorse Road, Ypsilanti, where visitors can taste kombucha and get to know other township residents.

Thursday, Oct. 18 starts with a farm tour of Smoking Barrels Ranch to discuss the role of food and agriculture in the township. After open studio hours from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., the township will host a tour of Gault Village, a shopping center Campbell says has been a "hot button" in the township for more than a decade.

Thursday evening, the township will host a youth forum from 4:30-6 p.m. at the community center. Campbell says it made sense to include township youth since they will be the ones directing the future of the township by 2040.

"What will it take for you to come back to Ypsilanti Township after going off to college for four years or to the military? What kind of businesses, entertainment, and recreation do we need for you to come back here and want to raise a family here?" Campbell asks. "We don't want to be a place kids can't wait to run away from, but rather a place they can't wait to get back to."

The event concludes on Friday with a steering committee meeting from noon-1 p.m, a closing gathering preview that afternoon, and closing gathering from 6:30-8 p.m. to review what the committee learned over the course of the master plan workshop.

Campbell says the four-day event is just one of several master plan events scheduled over the next few months. Another large gathering with public input is scheduled for February, and the township has planned several smaller events between October 2018 and February 2019. The information gathered will be used to update three documents: the township's master plan, the parks and recreation/non-motorized plan, and the zoning ordinance.

"It's important to get feedback and input, because this belongs to all of us, not just the planning or zoning (committees)," Campbell says. "The township belongs to the residents."

Staff will post live updates to the Ypsilanti Township 2040 Facebook page each day, and more information is available at the Ypsilanti Township 2040 website.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the interim project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.
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