Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More Public Art for Petoskey, Michigan's “Cool” Downtown!

Downtown Petoskey needs more public art, preferably created by local Northern Michigan artists. This recommendation was part of a report presented to the people of Petoskey this past Monday night.

The report was the result of a study conducted by HyettPalma, a national consulting firm specializing in the economic enhancement of downtowns and older business districts. The study was supported by a Blueprints for Michigan’s Downtowns grant from the State of Michigan's Cool Cities program.

An increase in public art was one of many recommendations contained in the report, intended as a five year action plan for improving the already delightful character of Downtown Petoskey. Doyle Hyett of HyettPalma explained in Monday's public presentation of his firm's findings that he expected Mitchell Street to become the new entry route to Downtown Petoskey. He proposed
A grand entrance to Downtown at Mitchell and Highway 31, to include public art, landscaping, lighting, signage, and clear lines of sight down Mitchell Street from Highway 31.

Hyett called for more public art throughout downtown. He illustrated this portion of his presentation with a slide of one of Petoskey's best loved pieces of public art, the statue of Ignatius Petoskey that overlooks Little Traverse Bay from a vantage point near the Perry Hotel. (The statue was donated to the City of Petoskey by Robert Dau of Chicago and Bayview. It was sculpted by Pietro Vinotti of Petoskey. It is pictured here in a photograph by Northern Michigan Artists Market artist Carson Wright. )

The written HyettPalma report details the need for more public art in Downtown Petoskey:
A public art placement plan should be defined for Downtown. Public art in Downtown should be:
  • High quality and of significance;
  • By area artists, whenever possible;
  • Indigenous to Petoskey; and
  • Located, at a minimum, at the “grand entrance” to be created for Downtown at Mitchell and Highway 31, and on the Downtown Greenway [Pennsylvania and Arlington Parks].

The proposed plan for action includes numerous design, planning and business development recommendations. Northern Michigan Artists Market artists and customers will be interested in the high priority HyettPalma placed on improvements to Mitchell Street.
As was stated earlier, Mitchell Street must become a top priority of the effort to further enhance Downtown Petoskey. This should include:
  • Creating a boulevard down the middle of Mitchell Street to increase its feeling of intimacy for the pedestrian, as the City has plans to do;
  • Placing pedestrian-scale streetlights on Mitchell;
  • Adding landscaping and coordinated street furnishings – benches, trash receptacles, bike racks – to Mitchell Street, in order to make it more pedestrian-oriented and pedestrian-friendly; and
  • Creating a grand entrance to Downtown . . .

This new Petoskey Downtown Blueprint 2007 is filled with interesting and provocative ideas for improving our town. I particularly endorse its recognition of the importance of the arts to a vibrant, Cool Downtown and of the contribution of local artists in particular. I encourage everyone interested in Petoskey and Northern Michigan arts and artists to become active in the implementation of this plan and in advocating for local arts and artists.

The final written report is a specific five-year plan, which will be implemented by the Downtown Management Board, Downtown Division Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce and City of Petoskey staff, and volunteer committees to ensure the future of an economically viable downtown community. If you want to comment on the plan or become involved in its implementation, a good starting contact point is Becky Goodman, the Downtown Director, Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce, (231)347-4150.

Please click here to see and hear Doyle Hyett's final presentation of the Downtown Petoskey Blueprint Plan, presented January 29 in the H.O. Rose Dining Room of Stafford's Perry Hotel.
To read the entire written report, click here.

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