Monday evening I took a ride to the Village of Dexter, the purpose was for multiple reasons, it's a quaint town that I enjoy visiting, I wanted to do a recon ride there to scope out a longer ride for a weekend day trip and lastly I was checking out progress on the riverfront development they are planning. I used to live just north of that village and often passed through Dexter on my way to Ann Arbor via the scenic back roads. It was a sleepy little village typical of anytown USA but as most communities go it had it's own unique character and natural features, not the least of which is the Huron River winding through the village, a cider mill and quaint shops.
I had not been through Dexter in a number of years since I had moved and took a trip there a couple of years ago and was amazed at how the sleepy little village had grown into a vibrant expanding community that managed to preserve the local flair and incorporate new development into existing community so seamlessly. The community could be a model for this.
When I was elected into my current position I visited many small communities that I had explored years ago and sought to see how they have changed and evolved and dealt with new development. In and around Washtenaw and Livingston counties there are countless little cities, villages, bergs, towns and townships. Time has been kind to some of them and others not so much. I traveled to places that have had no apparent change whatsoever, some that had big change, some that had changed for the worse and some that had changed for the better. The Village od Dexter is one of the model communities that has embraced change and development and not lost it's character or charm.
That is not an easy task and takes a leadership team with singular focus and much planning. I interact with officials from the community through my various committees at the County level and have built relationships with many in my peer group. Particularly I was interested in having members of our DDA (downtown development authority) meet with members of their group and members of village council. I arranged for a field trip about a year and a half or two ago and we did a walking tour through their community. There were lots of questions exchanged along our way and we had a luncheon afterwards where they discussed how they managed the planning and change. I was a new Township Supervisor at the time and I wanted to know how they were able to fund so much progess and municipal projects. I also realized that this happened over a period of many years but the most profound take away from the meeting was twofold; leverage commuity dollars with grant funding from state, county and federal sources and secondly getting all of the community groups on board with a shared vision. It is a model that I have pursued aggressively in pursuits for my own community. Time will be the judge of it's effectivness. All of that aside, I had a throughly enjoyable ride exploring the side streets and the main throughfare through town, scoped out the ride to the cider mill and spent some quiet time reflecting by the rapids. By the time I ambeled about town it was too late to bike ride to Hudson Mills Metro park nearby so I rode there in my car after loading up my bike and scoped out the connection to the park.
This will make for a dandy ride for a day trip. It allows for a couple of options. Bringing bike by vehicle, parking in town and riding to the cider mill and nearby park with bike trails for a 10-12 mile loop or to leave from Northfield and visit the cider mill, park and exploring downtown for a 20-25 mile ride. Both good options depending on how much time is alloted for cycling that day.
|Dexter's Plan for a river front park|
|Early stages of the riverfront development|
|The path ends as soon as you get past the bridge|