Residents and businesses in Brighton are being asked to weigh in on what municipal planners call “streetscape design” — the signs, sidewalks benches, light poles, enhanced crossing walks, and other physical manifestations that, taken together, lead to a downtown’s overall look and character.

The Brighton Downtown Development Authority has just embarked on a project to update the downtown streetscape plan, which was developed and implemented in the ’90’s and, according to its critics, needs updating. As a result, City Manager Nate Geinzer says an open house will be held on Tuesday, June 25th, to get input from the public on improving the downtown’s streetscapes. The envisioned new streetscape plan — which is now just in the conceptual stage — will be part of a multi-faceted and multi-year process. The plan will be developed in consultation with Giffels Webster, the city’s planning consultants.

As one example of the evolution of downtowns, Geinzer says Brighton has more sidewalk cafes now than in the past, creating what he calls “choke points” where pedestrians are forced to walk around, and sometimes in between, those sitting outdoors at tables. Geinzer says, “The more people are enjoying (sidewalk cafes) the more you need the space to facilitate it.” He says that although they are popular, the end result is to put more pressure on the downtown’s infrastructure. Geinzer says some communities in Southeast Michigan, including Howell and Fenton, have been able to take on streetscape projects using grant money from the state. But in order to have any chance of obtaining a grant, Geinzer says Brighton needs to have a good streetscape plan in place.

For those who can’t attend the June 25th open house, Giffels Webster is working on putting together a visual preference survey that will be distributed in the near future. And, after the input is gathered and dissected, there will be a second opportunity — targeted for July or August - to display and showcase the design concepts. The event, and the input process, is open to the public, and downtown businesses will be welcome to share the invitation and the survey with their customers once it is published.

The open house will be held on Tuesday, June 25, from 7:30-9:30 a.m. in council chambers of City Hall. (TT)