Projects in Bridgman and Coldwater among finalists in statewide placemaking awards

What’s happening: The rural communities of Bridgman and Coldwater are joined in good company by the more urban and suburban cities of Port Huron and Westland, as placemaking projects in each have been named finalists in 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. The most recent winner was the Village of Cassopolis in 2022 for its Imagine Cass Project: Small, Rural, and Exceptional.

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.

[Related: Read “Construction of new public space, the Bridgman Courtyard, planned for downtown Bridgman” on Rural Innovation Exchange.]

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.”

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