MUSKEGON — The new Lakeshore Trail, the construction of a walkable development downtown and a variety of outdoor amenities are all reasons Muskegon has been recognized with the Silver Level Promoting Active Communities Award.
The award, which is given through a collaboration of the Michigan Department of Community Health, Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Michigan State University and the Prevention Research Center of Michigan, honors those communities that make physical activities a part of their infrastructure.
“It shows a commitment by the community for developing a place for people to be physically active as a part of their routine,” said Risa Wilkerson, vice president of Active Communities for the Michigan Fitness Foundation.
Cities that apply for the award take an extensive online assessment, answering questions and assessing different aspects of the city. The categories include the current environment, which includes the built environment and the area’s transportation network; policies and planning; and programs and promotions.
Though there are bronze, copper, silver, gold and platinum levels, Wilkerson said no city has achieved the group’s highest honor.
This year Ann Arbor was the only city to be honored with the gold award, while eight other cities were awarded the silver along with Muskegon. There have been 80 cities honored in all since 2001.
Wilkerson said Muskegon was highlighted in the awards ceremony as an example of a community that is consciously working to promote physical activities. The ceremony took place during the Designing Healthy Livable Communities conference at the Kellogg Center in East Lansing.
“We used the Heritage Landing project, the Lakeshore Trail,” Wilkerson said. “We also talked about the revitalization of Western Avenue and the conversion of the Amazon Building to apartments.”
Wilkerson said she encourages Muskegon and other communities to continue to apply for the award year after year to aspire to higher honors.
“It takes a lot of effort, and communities who go through the effort are really showing that they have a vision,” she said.
Cathy Brubaker-Clarke, community and economic development director for the city of Muskegon, said she appreciates the recognition and the fact that Muskegon was used as an example for other cities.
“I did get calls from the state because they were very excited about Muskegon, and it stood out to them as just a real changing city with economic development and tourism,” she said. “We know these things about ourselves, but it’s nice for the state to recognize that, and others throughout the state.”
Brubaker-Clarke said the city does plan to try to achieve higher levels of the award.
“We’re just proud of what we’re doing and want to keep moving forward and head for the gold,” she said.