MUSKEGON, Mich. – City leaders in Muskegon were taking a new look at the city they call home, watching it pass-by through the window of their trolley.
Roughly 20 concerned citizens and city leaders hopped aboard to see what’s working and what is not in there communities.
From the windows of the packed trolley, conversations came as quickly as the buildings they passed.
Some of those talks focused around what was working. Muskegon City Manager points out Fricano Event Center on West Western Avenue as an example of business that is working in the area.
“The more people that make investments like this, the greater our community and our neighborhood are going to be,” said Peterson.
Other passengers spoke on things that needed to be improved, blighted buildings and a lack of signage pointing out what some consider to be the city’s biggest resource, the beach.
“It’s not easy if you are not from the area to know how to get to a public beach,” said one trolley rider.
The journey through the Nims and Nelson neighborhoods were put together by Peterson. The city manager is relatively new to the job and said he wanted to get a good lay of the land.
“I’ve got about six pages of notes from the two neighborhoods,” said Peterson. “Sometimes you wish that people would be more boisterous but I got a lot of information as we were getting off the trolley. A lot of people didn’t want to scream it out over the noise of the trolley.”
Two Muskegon police officers were also on board to give a little insight on what they see on a daily basis.
“(The officers) help us identify the parts of the neighborhood that are the problems so they don’t spread out into the parts of the neighborhood that are going well,” the city manager said.
Police were able to point out specific houses and empty lots were they say they are called time and time again. The officers say these small pockets often give people the perception that Muskegon as a whole is crime ridden.
A good deal of attention was also spent brainstorming ways to help people clean-up dilapidated homes and buildings and finding a way to track the offenders and stop the behavior.
“When someone does get a fine, we need to make sure it’s not an easy fine to deal with,” said Peterson. “It makes them think that they don’t want to do it again.”
The city says part of the solution will come in finding the funding to start cleaning up the problems they saw from the trolley.
“You will see us formulating a plan over the winter months and then implementing it over the Spring.”
The trolley trip is just the first of many, according to Peterson. He hopes to take tours through the neighborhoods in the city and then work on formulating a game plan to fix the problems they encounter.