The beautification project along Sherman Boulevard will feature various pieces ranging from landscaping and infrastructure to signage and pocket parks. Courtesy Muskegon Watch
It isn’t exactly yellow bricks, but a major Muskegon corridor to the lakeshore is getting a makeover.
The Watch Muskegon Community Image Campaign committee will begin beautifying Sherman Boulevard this week, a project that will span more than six miles and take several years.
Watch Muskegon project coordinator Carla Flanders said the organization chose Sherman, which is anchored on the east side by Mercy Health Partners and extends to Lake Michigan, because it is one of the most trafficked areas for visitors and residents.
“First of all, we wanted to do this for visitors and guests that come into our community,” she said. “The No. 2 big reason is for residents along that corridor. We wanted them to be proud of their community. And No. 3 was for businesses. There are a number of them in that corridor that could assist with this project, and also we would be cleaning up areas where new businesses could form.”
The plan includes installing three distinct landscape styles reflecting the surrounding areas — gradually shifting from a north woods aesthetic to an urban and finally beach aesthetic.
Designed by Kalamazoo landscape architect firm O’Boyle, Cowell, Blalock & Associates Inc., Flanders said the styles, or gateway features, were deliberately selected to represent Muskegon’s diverse surroundings.
“We wanted to continue to make a visually appealing area in each segment but still keep it consistent,” Flanders said. “We can have benches and light poles and banners that are all similar within each gateway, but then they can be unique to the characteristics surrounding them. I love these gateway features, and I’d love to see a few blocks within each one.”
In addition to the gateway features, the project also will improve upon the boardwalk; create, widen and improve pedestrian sidewalks; install street lighting features; and add public art and create pocket parks. The full plan lists 10 prioritized objectives:
- Pick up trash along the corridor.
- Clean up blighted, unsightly properties.
- Add landscaping in key areas.
- Encourage business facade improvements.
- Complete and enhance pedestrian connections.
- Install consistent street lighting fixtures.
- Develop consistent seed mix for vacant lots.
- Use boardwalks to accentuate character.
- Paint murals on blank building walls.
- Install public art and create pocket parks.
The first phase of the project — trash removal and lawn maintenance —is underway, with a volunteer-led cleanup beginning Monday and running through Friday.
One challenge is that the stretch of Sherman Boulevard to be improved runs through five municipalities: the city of Muskegon, Norton Shores, Roosevelt Park, Muskegon Heights and Muskegon Township.
Because of this, Flanders said a total estimated cost of the project cannot be determined until each community has identified where it can participate within its budget. She expects a total cost estimate within a few months and hopes public and private groups will step up to help implement the portion not covered by municipal budgets.
Flanders said each of the five municipalities has been very open to collaborating with each other and with Watch Muskegon.
“The way this community works together on things has been amazing,” she said. “How each municipality is completely on board for this and willing to put this in their budgets and do these things has been great.”