Westland looks to become first two-time winner of this statewide placemaking award

What’s happening: Westland’s Mission to Mars playscape opened at the city’s Tattan Park earlier this summer, and the space-themed park, designed to be inclusive of children of all abilities, is already receiving accolades. The project has been named a finalist for the Michigan Municipal League’s statewide Community Excellence Award for 2023. The award is, the League attests, the organization’s most prestigious community honor.

What it is: The Community Excellence Award (CEA) was launched in 2007 and – save for a contest cancellation in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19 – has been honoring the state’s most innovative placemaking projects and programs each year since. A Westland win in 2023 would place the city as the award’s only two-time winner; Westland won the 2015 CEA for their retrofitting of a vacant big box store – a shuttered Circuit City – and redeveloping it as their new City Hall.

Final Four: This year’s finalists include the Bridgman Courtyard project in Bridgman, which transformed a parking lot into a community gathering space; the expansion of the Children’s Museum of Branch County by the Coldwater Downtown Development Authority; Port Huron’s McMorran Place Plaza revitalization; and Westland’s Mission to Mars-themed playground.

What’s next: The four finalists will compete at the Michigan Municipal League Convention in Traverse City on Oct. 18, 19, and 20. Representatives from each will present their projects on stage and at designated booths, with conference guests voting for their favorite projects and deciding this year’s winner. The annual contest is nicknamed “The Race for the Cup,” as the winning project will receive a large trophy in addition to statewide acclaim.

Why it’s important: “We are excited to learn more about our finalists’ projects at our Convention this fall,” says Barb Ziarko, the President of the League’s Board of Trustees and Sterling Heights City Councilmember. “Projects like these are helping our state continue to create thriving communities, and we are proud to celebrate them.”

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.