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Why Place Matters

ECA board member Chris Cork shares why he relocated to Grand Rapids a decade ago and how the walkablilty ethos was the driving argument in the denial of proposed gas station at Fulton and Carlton.

/Eric Tank

Underwriting support from:

City commission meeting notes

Begining on page 84 of the November 13 commisssion meeting minutes is a list of letters written in opposition to the development

/Courtesy of Eastown Community Association

/Courtesy of Eastown Community Association

Written by Christopher Cork 

I was recently reminded why I joined the ECA board and why I love our neighborhood. I have been part of discussions about the proposed Family Fare gas station at Fulton and Carlton through our board meetings, but was surprised when I attended the Planning Commission meeting on November 13.

I was amazed with the passion and eloquence our neighbors spoke regarding this project. One of the common themes that people raised is the fact that our neighborhood is walkable. It reminded me why my family moved here and why we continue to want to raise our family here.

My wife and I moved to Eastown 10 years ago from the Detroit area within a few months of our first child being born. We had spent time in Grand Rapids prior to moving here and loved the vibe of the city. We didn’t really know the neighborhoods very well before moving here, but fell in love with Eastown and feel blessed to have stumbled upon this little gem in our great city.

After our experience living in Detroit, an area that is designed around the automobile, we knew that we wanted to live within the city in a walkable environment. We wanted to be part of the revitalization of a city, not part of the urban sprawl. So, when I heard my friends and neighbors talking about walkability and traffic concerns I was elated. While I have to drive to work, I love the fact that once I get home I can walk to the grocery store. My family can walk to the park, or out for dinner. We can walk to our church and then walk to breakfast afterwards. I must admit that we are still working on this concept with our children. We constantly hear “Why can’t we drive?” To which we reply, “Because we can walk!”

If you want to talk about place then I think there is no better way than walkability. Seeing your neighbors and friends walking through the neighborhood and just saying “Hi” is what makes a neighborhood strong. Being connected to one another creates a sense of responsibility and pride in the place you live. Whether it be block parties or picnics in the park, bringing us as neighbors together creates a sense of place. One where you want to raise your family and spend your entire life. A place that you want to invest your time and money. 

So, I salute my neighbors for taking time off work and out of their busy schedules to stand up for their neighborhood and what they believe in. I am proud to be part of a place that will unite together for the future of our neighborhood. 

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