Hartland's village area is a jewel that needs to be polished and a new township plan presented Wednesday is just what's needed.
That was the general consensus from several of the more than 25 people who attended a community overview at the . The vision focuses on reshaping how the main thoroughfare through the downtown — Avon Street — can protect the area's uniqueness while showcasing some of Hartland's signature cultural attractions such as the music hall, the Florence B. Dearing Museum and the .
"I feel that we have so many gems like this (music hall) that people miss," said village area resident Gayle Roberts. "When they do all this, it'll bring it out."
The plan seeks new sidewalks, redesigned angled and parallel parking, landscaping and shorter pedestrian crossings, especially at the southern entryway to the area at Avon Street and Crouse Road. In addition, it calls for a new special zoning for the area that encourages the current character but provides flexibility to property owners.
Village area resident John Ellis said he moved to the neighborhood about 10 years ago in hopes for these types of changes. He said he walks his Welsh Corgi in the area all the time and says the area could be one of the best places pedestrian areas with the changes.
"This little village is the identity of Hartland," said Ellis, who is a history professor at the University of Michigan-Flint. "It's what makes Hartland different. It's not M-59 that you can't find in any of these towns.
"It's a huge cultural resource and a civic resource. We in the village know all about it, but other people in the township, if we had decent sidewalks and parking, would use it, too."
Tammy Chinn, who grew up on Avon Street, supports the change but has concerns about some ideas that reduce parking, especially because her father needs handicapped parking and her parents home is sandwiched between two businesses. Officials say they will look to make changes based on all the feedback received Wednesday.
"It's fantastic," said Chinn about the effort, adding five generations of her family has lived in the village and her family "has seen everything" that's happened there.
"I love the concept — the feeling of Hartland becoming more family-friendly. … The village is getting left behind. It needs to be brought up into the future."
Supporters hope to fund the upgrades with grants and are open to implementing changes either in one large project or several smaller ones. There is no estimated cost yet, but they add that creating the plan is the first step in applying.
Roberts, who has lived in Hartland since 1979 and is a member of the , said the fixes need to be done before it's too late.
"At this point it would be so hard to get it back to someplace we need it to be if we don't do it sometime soon," Roberts said "It really has been overlooked."
For more on the plan, click here.