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      City hopes downtown facelift could be answer to economic woes

      Gaylord's City Council met Monday to discuss this plan that they believe will spruce up the downtown region.

      O ne northern Michigan community is looking for public feedback on a proposed multi-million dollar project that could provide a major facelift to their downtown.

      G aylord's City Council met Monday to discuss this plan that they believe will spruce up the downtown region. After hearing comments from the public, the City Council approved the plan and said they will now begin to apply for grants to fund the improvements.

      But a group of Gaylord residents think this idea would waste tax dollars.

      The group spent the day making signs that protest the city's $4.4 million plan to beautify the downtown region.

      "W e believe in change with supporting evidence to back it up , prov ing that any taxpayer dollars that are spent are well spent dollar s," James Flint, Gaylord resident explained.

      T hey think the city isn't spending their money wisely.

      "W e can't see where any of these solutions would bring about safety improvement s or would bring about more business to the downtown area ," Flint said.

      T he plan calls for a major shift in traffic on M-32 running through downtown.

      T h e five lane road would be slimed to three as you pass by the shops. T he sidewalks would be expanded and there would be room for a bike lane by the road.

      "T he goal is to slow traffic down as people move through town and make it more of a pedestrian oriented environment ," Justin Burchett, Gaylord DDA Executive Director said.

      B ut some residents see this as a traffic nightmare rather than a benefit to business.

      "I think it's going to congest traffic more ," Ron Smith, Gaylord resident said. "I think it's going to turn people away from coming into downtown gaylord and I think it's going to actually hurt the city."

      T he plan also calls for creating a public park near the county building.

      A beautification project that the city hopes draws new business to the downtown commun it y so they can compete with other tourist destinations.

      "I think this is one way we can get people to visit the downtown area , they can come through on snowmobile during the winter time , now we need to get them downtown during the summertime and year-round ," Patt Dobrzelewski, Baymont Inn General Manager said.