Outdoor dining, the right move. Now, let’s narrow the Avenue!

March 4, 2013

Our View. An editorial.

Allowing outdoor dining on the sidewalks of Ludington Avenue and South James is a step in the right direction toward progress.

Ludington has made a lot of positive changes in the past several years toward becoming more visitor friendly. Encouraging dining establishments to serve food and drink outdoors helps kick up the notch even more. It should be noted the city has allowed this, but the establishments have had to jump through some hoops and restrictions have been tight.

Outdoor dining will attract more people to downtown, whether they live a block away, 10 miles away or 100 miles away. It has been proven that a pedestrian friendly downtown is a thriving downtown. Allowing people to sit at a table on a sidewalk encourages people to spend time and money downtown.

So, now let’s take it a step further, Ludington, and put pressure on the Michigan Department of Transportation to re-route U.S. 10 so Ludington Avenue through downtown can be narrowed. There is no reason why we need five lanes of traffic to go through the downtown. What were our ancestors thinking when they did this? The most important part of a walkable community is to have narrow streets and wide sidewalks. These items slow down traffic and make it easier for people to get from one side of the street to another. Plus, wide sidewalks allow for more exterior commerce.

Disagree? Visit Grand Haven, Traverse City and Holland and look around their central business districts. What you will not see are five lanes of traffic. These are communities that have thriving downtowns. They are thriving because people feel welcome there.

There is hardly anything worse than sitting on the sidewalk, enjoying a fish taco and latte from Redolencia and listening to the rumble of semi trucks going by. Re-routing this traffic and narrowing the street will be a plus. Perhaps U.S. 10 could turn south on Washington Avenue and then west on Dowland Street then south again on James Street ending at the carferry dock. Perhaps an alternative truck route could be established down Bryant Avenue. In addition, one way traffic down Court and Loomis streets could also help the flow of traffic. Again, visit Grand Haven and observe the traffic flow there.

Manufacturing is no longer king in Ludington and most likely never will be again. Yes, manufacturing jobs are important. But, the reality is, tourism is our top industry now. We still need non-service industry jobs. These will be jobs like technology, education and medical. Providing a cool downtown for these people will only encourage more people to make Ludington their home.

Keep up the good work Ludington!

 

The Ludington City Council is expected to take action on the topic of sidewalk dining tonight at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.

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