Howell Main Street Inc. and the Howell Downtown Development Authority have much to keep in mind when planning for the future, having received feedback from community members in the form of a survey and input session.

Posters, maps and sticky notes with ideas were posted all over the walls of the Meabon Room at the Howell Carnegie District Library Thursday night for Howell Main Street Inc.’s “Unveil Open House”. The display was the culmination of consultants, city leadership, Main Street and the DDA’s efforts over the course of several months in which they gleaned data and sought feedback on what the community would like to see in Downtown Howell’s future. Howell Main Street Inc. received the consultation services as a part of their win earlier this year for the National Great American Main Street Award.

Howell Main Street Inc. C.O.O. and Downtown Development Director Cathleen Edgerly says it's been an exciting process, adding that "as a community continues to evolve, we need to continue to evolve with it." Edgerly says, "Seeing the outpouring of community engagement and participation from new residents, to five generations living here in Howell, to business owners and developers and really the whole gamut, we received a lot of very positive input in talking about the future of downtown."

Some generally-agreed upon ideas included preservation of the downtown’s history, an indoor “market-hall”, linear gardens, parking space, places to play or gather, intensive housing and spaces for non-retail businesses. Landscape Architect Michael Schroeder aided in the information-gathering process and shared what comes next, now that the consultants, Main Street and DDA have all of these ideas to work with. Schroeder says, "There's a difficulty in saying well, 'how does this apply to all of this?' And what we wouldn't ever do is take these ideas and stick them somewhere in downtown. We go through a process."

Schroeder added, "The first thing that needs to happen is a really robust look around the ideas to make sure they're landing on the right ideas and that as they take on the next round of projects in downtown, that they don't cut-off the opportunity as they do a street reconstruction project or some utility project." Schroeder says the goal was to stimulate dialogue in the community. An input session held earlier in the week drew approximately 40 people and an online survey received nearly 800 responses. (DK)