Sherman Summer Pop Up Park
The Sherman Summer Pop Up Park was a placemaking pilot project designed to create a new community space and demonstrate how short term streetscape changes can lead to long-term changes and benefits, by utilizing tactical urbanism and a better, lighter, cheaper approach. This month long transformation is the first step in the upcoming 9 Mile Redesign, aimed at creating a vibrant streetscape, facilitating a more robust community culture, and an increasing commercial presence. Before beginning the project, the City hosted multiple community meetings to gain resident support and input for the pop up park. The residents continued their involvement by helping to set up the park and monitoring it through the month. Testing different activities and amenities at the site allowed us to introduce various options with low risk and cost. We gathered feedback on this project through social media, talking to people, and leaving comment cards at the park. Over 83% of those surveyed want the park to become permanent and provided us feedback on how to design the space. The feedback will be used to design a beautiful pocket park that will be a permanent community asset.
Nine Mile Redesign Project
Encouraging healthy lifestyles through non-motorized pathway connectivity has become a focus for the City of Oak Park. In 2014 we began planning for this project by gathering input from the community. We applied for a grant through Project for Public Spaces and were awarded the grant to facilitate community meetings and preparing a plan for Nine Mile Road. These community meetings were held over several days and attended by over 80 people.
Since that initial step we have conducted many community meetings to discuss next steps through our Master Planning Process and the Sherman Summer Pop Up Park project. We have also taken other steps forward such as in 2016, Oak Park partnered with 5 neighboring communities to create a network of signed bike routes and bike repair stations. This route provides connectivity within these 5 communities and Southeast Michigan and its purpose is to enhance the quality of life for residents, businesses and visitors along the bike route by creating a connected neighborhood bicycle route with adjacent cities. The participating cities were Ferndale, Oak Park, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Hazel Park, and Pleasant Ridge.
The proposed Nine Mile Redesign will reduce the amount of lanes on Nine Mile Road from five or four lanes to three lanes. This gives the room needed to add bike lanes onto the route which will create a more vibrant commercial corridor in Oak Park along Nine Mile Road. The non-motorized pathways will benefit not only the residents of Oak Park but also the surrounding communities as well. It will connect commercial centers, provide access to transit, and provide alternative routes and modes of travel for residents and visitors. It helps to make this commercial corridor vibrant so it can attract new businesses into Oak Park.
The non-motorized path will create a better sense of place along the corridor and spur economic development. The Southeast Michigan CEDS plan identifies this as one of its 11 strategies. In 2014, the City of Oak Park adopted a Strategic Economic Development Plan. The plan included a Streetscape Identity section which encouraged the city to design their commercial corridors to be walkable retail destinations. Streetscape elements can reinforce the pedestrian environment by defining the street right-of-way as public space that combines street trees, coordinated street furniture and lighting, comfortable sidewalks, and bike lanes and storage. Streetscape investment is also a catalyst for economic development - every $1 spent on improvements within a business district spurs $18 of private sector investment.
Streets and street networks provide a template for a rich combination of housing, shopping, and transportation choice. Nine Mile Road is the principal roadway through the center of Oak Park. Right now, it serves mostly motor vehicles and neither creates an attractive environment for pedestrians to walk or take transit nor a safe environment for cycling or other modes of transportation. Together, this reduces the economic development potential along Nine Mile Road and makes Nine Mile Road unattractive route for anyone not using a car. Streets and street networks should support a robust mix of culture and commerce. Street networks should integrate all modes of transportation. Aligning the goals set forth by the residents of Oak Park in the Strategic Economic Development Plan, and the Center For New Urbanism Nine Mile Redesign Plan this project can play a catalytic role by better connecting people to the types of places they increasingly seek and providing them with choices for how to get to them. Though challenging, redesigning Nine Mile Road to create an identity for Oak Park and boost economic development while honoring the needs and wants of Oak Park residents is possible. To do so, a redesigned Nine Mile Road must:
- Reallocate street space for other community-serving uses
- Encourage biking with dedicated bike lanes
- Integrate bike parking and bike storage to serve transit riders
- Make crossing Nine Mile on foot and bike safe and convenient
- Provide greater visibility and identity for commercial businesses
- Create public gathering places
- Create a heart for the Oak Park community
This is Phase One of a three part plan to reduce the amount of lanes, create non-motorized paths, and connect to the cities of Southfield and Ferndale. The importance to connect is it creates connectivity to regional trails such as the planned Grand River Corridor, provides a connection to job centers, and existing routes along Nine Mile Road.
The City of Oak Park has partnered with the City of Ferndale to apply for a Transportation Alternative Program grant through MDOT to request funding for this project. Further grants will be sought to assist in funding the parks along the Nine Mile Road corridor.
To view the proposed Nine Mile Redesign Plan click here. Please keep in mind this plan will evolve over time as the planning process moves forward.