Placemaking enhances area

Editor’s note: This is part one of two in a column series focusing on placemaking projects within Alger County. The second part will appear in one month.

If you’ve visited Munising or Grand Marais within the last few years you may have noticed that the gateway communities surrounding the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are vibrant in many ways. New businesses and attractions have opened. Hundreds of thousands of people continue to visit the area year-round. Perhaps one of the most notable factors, though, is the implementation of placemaking projects within the downtown districts.

The American Planning Association suggests that placemaking builds connections between people and places by encouraging collaboration and visualization. Reports show that placemaking is also an economic driver because projects enhance an area’s appearance and therefore its community.

The Alger County Chamber of Commerce/Greater Munising Bay Partnership for Commerce Development and Munising Downtown Authority office has increased its implementation of such projects in recent years not only to enhance its towns and cities and build relationships, but to also tell a story. With the help of sponsors, grant funding and partnerships, a wide range of placemaking projects have taken place in Alger County. Some of the projects completed in recent years include:

≤ Four large murals were placed on the sides of several buildings off Superior Street in downtown Munising. The murals each has a unique theme, such as: the history of Munising, popular outdoor activities, and the history of communications – all created by artist Mike Lempinen – and nature and northern lights, which was created by artist Mike Stockwell.

≤A historic photography walk and wind harp was placed adjacent to and behind the old post office in Grand Marais last summer. Banners and benches were also placed around town. A historic photo walk was also installed in Munising.

≤Four historic images of area residents/visitors can be found on different establishments in downtown Munising.

≤ Last year individuals were encouraged to submit banner designs to the Munising DDA Banner Design Contest. Winning designs were displayed along M-28/Munising Avenue in spring until fall and will be up again in a few months.

For more information about placemaking projects in Alger County, refer to this column in a month or visit the Chamber/Partnership’s Facebook page.

Editor’s note: Jaymie Depew is the communications and special project assistant for the Alger County Chamber of Commerce/Greater Munising Bay Partnership for Commerce Development, Munising Downtown Development Authority and Munising Visitors Bureau.