He Said/She Said January 2015

The Key To Growth

By Joseph Maguire

Keep a close eye on MSU as it rolls out tools to help the Lansing region become a more vibrant community on a par with its own rising star.

Their offer, free for the taking, is leadership, consensus building and analytical tools to transform the Grand River/Michigan Avenue corridor into a World Class Built Environment.

Knowledge workers, the key to growth, demand functional, attractive places with livable neighborhoods containing diverse housing. Proximity to restaurants, shopping and services is essential.

The MSU School of Planning, Design and Construction has worked closely with residents, governments, economic developers and builders to guide development decisions along this vital corridor.

With this input in hand, they have created a digital tool to measure the economic impact and return on investment of development geared to the actual needs of both current residents and young professionals.

MSU needs a thriving and, yes, “cool” place with modern housing options to recruit and retain faculty and professionals. The same is true of business’ efforts to sell Lansing to job candidates. Our insurance companies, for example, are working feverishly to recruit educated young professionals. They lose more than they land. Let’s change that.

It’s an open question as to whether the plan will gain traction. Lansing and East Lansing have not always cooperated, though recent agreements to share services are encouraging signs.
And there are many other stake holders involved — notably neighborhood associations. Indeed, we are all stake holders, no matter where we live and work in the region.

My own sense is the biggest obstacle lies in East Lansing’s bewildering notion that a Big 10 town is most livable with students out of sight, out of mind.

Far flung pockets have emerged to house these student exiles, denying downtown East Lansing the critical mass to put the core in any corridor. Reasonable minds need to dispense with this nonsense.

Our community has the ability to embrace the grand idea — consider the Blue Ribbon Committee to Retain GM. Facing regional economic peril at the loss of our automobile manufacturing, once-adversarial local governments, labor and management joined to forge and execute the plan that resulted in the creation of two new GM manufacturing plants.

I was at that table, and have every confidence we may likewise look to the future with the corridor that links our region’s other two defining heritages — Michigan’s Capital City and Michigan State University.

Your Car will Thank You

By Kelly Ritter

Everybody hates potholes. And because of this, I think roads will be a huge topic of discussion this year. They ruin tires and put unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle. I don’t know about you but on my way to work I know exactly what lane to be in and when, based on the pothole-path in front of me. I know when I need to drive near the right side of the lane, I know that there’s a large gaping hole about a hundred yards from that one stop light (that’s usually when I change lanes) and I know that if I take one side street over another my car will be happier because of how many less potholes I’ll have to hit.

I think that one of the largest changes coming our way in 2015 is going to involve the road repairs needed in Michigan. We’ve been talking about the need for this for a while now. We have crumbling roads and bridges that aren’t safe to drive on.

A plan was proposed at the end of last year by the state government to help ease this problem and raise the necessary funds needed for the infrastructure repairs. It was suggested that the money needed to foot the bill could come from eliminating the current 19 cents-per-gallon gasoline tax and 15 cents-per-gallon diesel fuel tax at the pump and replace it with a tax charged on gasoline wholesalers instead. They plan is to increase the wholesale tax by two percent each year for the next three years occurring at the beginning of every January. It was also suggested that fines could be doubled for truck weight limit violations. The overall plan should result in an average funding increase of 73 percent by 2018.

Although this topic has prompted lots of discussion, and will ultimately decided by the voters, I think we can all agree that we have a problem that needs to be addressed. In the long-term we’re looking at additional jobs coming to the area, less repair bills and fewer accidents. It’s time to take action — your car will thank you for it.

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