A Vision of Portland
Small Town Character & Community Identity
Portland is a distinct rural community bordered in several directions by farms, open fields, and woodlands. The appearance of Portland is vastly different, depending on the direction from which a person approaches it. Exit 75 (Grand River) from I-96 brings a visitor into a typical freeway stop: gas stations, fast food, and multiple street cuts leading into many different businesses—largely convenient businesses. On the north, the area immediately surrounding this entrance into Portland also includes two local restaurants, a grocery/hardware store, a hotel, and a bank. To the south is a car dealership and another fast-food establishment. Access is via a five-lane highway business loop. The landscape and scenery include a wide variety of signs, utility poles and wires, and small patches of grass near the curbs.
Exit 76 (Kent Street) from I-96 brings a visitor into a residential neighborhood. Access is via a two-lane street. Immediately north of the freeway, the river trail crosses Kent Street, followed by several blocks of single-family homes. Continuing north, visitors drive into a mixed residential/business district and then pass the historical Portland District Library, built in 1905, and the City Hall, before entering the historic downtown.
Visitors entering the city via a local road will enter via neighborhoods of, largely, single-family homes. Charlotte Highway, from south of the city, also includes an apartment complex.
Portland residents appreciate the historical buildings, the city’s bridges, its traditional neighborhoods and older homes, and its tree-lined streets. The city is designed primarily on a grid pattern, with the Grand and Looking Glass rivers dissecting that pattern and meeting near the downtown.
We see Portland as connected by "full-service streets" in which cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists are equally at home. Most streets have ample sidewalks and large trees reaching over the street,
and we see this continuing as more development occurs. We value the downtown’s historical-looking pedestrian-scaled streetlights. We would like the residential neighborhoods to have similar
pedestrian-scaled streetlights instead of the tall, utility lights that currently light the streets.
We appreciate the lengthy river trail and plans to close the loop. We appreciate that the trail connects Portland’s parks, downtown, schools, and highway business district. We place high value on the ability to safely walk from home to work, to school, to the downtown or the Grand River corridor, and to the many parks.
We value a community with clean air. We would like even greater “walkability,” creating less dependence on the automobile. We support the recruitment of environmentally friendly industry. Compared to other communities, we believe that we do more walking, rollerblading, running, and biking, either for exercise or for enjoyment. We would like to see far less traffic congestion along the Grand River corridor. We place high value on our parks, landscaped parking areas, and other green spaces that create an aesthetically pleasing landscape and result in less storm water runoff and pollution in our rivers.
We value a community of clean, tree-lined streets, subtle commercial signage, and buildings of architectural distinction nestled amidst well-cared-for landscaping. We favor smaller parking areas with cars tucked behind landscaped walls and hedges or parked to the rear of buildings, but we also value a compromise between aesthetics and convenience.
We see the entire community, from school-aged children to senior citizens, with a keen appreciation for Portland's rich history. We would like to see more attention and energy being put into the city's historic buildings and other historic resources. We see Portland as a model for the state and nation, drawing visitors from far and wide to experience a successful small city immersed in an historic setting.
We see a healthy, vibrant downtown with attractive streets, well-cared-for buildings, and well-maintained sidewalks filled with people and activity. We see a diverse array of shopping, dining, working, and cultural amenities. We see a downtown that is the social and cultural center of the community and the first place we want to take visitors to Portland. At night, we see the lights on in upper story apartment windows throughout the downtown area. We see people strolling along the boardwalk or across the river, along the banks. We see frequent music and arts events in our downtown, drawing residents and visitors to come together in a safe, friendly community.
We see safe, secure, peaceful, and well-cared-for neighborhoods in every part of the city, with streets free of litter, manicured lawns, and lush gardens. We see freshly painted homes with neighbors greeting neighbors on sidewalks and front porch swings and with those neighbors coming together for summer block parties. We see families pushing baby carriages to nearby parks. We see children riding their bikes to the neighborhood corner store for a loaf of bread or a Saturday afternoon ice cream.
We see a community of neighbors and business owners committed to community-based policing. We see police officers on the beat, getting to know the neighborhood kids and their parents. We see a police department that is committed to supporting, rather than replacing, the collective will and determination of the people to have a community free of drugs, violence, and crime.
We see a multitude of housing choices, ranging from single-family homes, to townhouses, to garage apartments, to apartments over downtown shops or the neighborhood corner store. We see neighborhoods with several different housing types where the elderly, young families, singles, and others share experiences and help one another. We see a community where the housing is affordable and well maintained and where people take pride in their homes and in their neighborhoods.
We see a community of workers with good-paying jobs and a diverse local economy with employment in services, retail, clean manufacturing, technology, information systems, and agriculture, among others. We see workers with pride in their work and the prospect of continual advancement as they develop their skills and value. We see a community that values and supports entrepreneurship and creativity. And we see a community that supports its local businesses and understands that we are all in this community together.
Fiscal Responsibility & Better Services
We see a more compact “town” development pattern resulting in considerable cost savings to the taxpayer when compared to a sprawling development pattern. These savings should be realized through fewer miles in paved streets, shorter water and sewer lines, more efficient trash collection over shorter routes, more efficient law enforcement, as well as many other government services. We see a forward-thinking government that will not hold the community back simply because “we’ve always done it this way.” We see a city staff led by a government that sees Portland as the benchmark rather than the follower. We also see a government that makes its decisions based on the Portland that the people want—the values expressed in this document. We see a community where government, schools, business, nonprofits, churches, and residents work together to protect those values.
Parks, Recreation, & Open Space
We see large community parks, smaller neighborhood parks, and tiny pocket parks well distributed throughout the community. Larger community parks have clusters of playing fields for organized
athletic leagues. Smaller neighborhood parks have multi-purpose fields for informal athletic events as well as areas for unstructured play. We see parks convenient to neighborhoods, churches,
schools, and the river trail. We see a state-of-the-art children’s park with playground equipment and a garden for exploration and education.Walkability
We see a system of interconnected greenways adjoining area rivers, intermingled with the city and stretching into the countryside. We see a system of short and long loops, designed for hiking, biking, running, and rollerblading, which connect an array of schools, parks, gardens, and neighborhoods.
Water & Sewer Services
We see well maintained, financially self-supporting water supply and waste water treatment facilities and service areas, designed and strategically placed to both accommodate and lead the planned, compact growth of our community.
We see schools that are, at their foundations, undergirded by community involvement and parental support. We see schools that are located in proximity to neighborhoods so as to be natural gathering places for people to come together to solve community problems. We see schools that use their limited budgets to the maximum effect by relying on local residents and groups to supplement education. We see teachers, administrators, and a school board that are willing to risk their own comforts and security for the betterment of education.
Arts, Entertainment, & Sports
We see an appreciation for the arts that begins with Portland's historic roots but extends to many other traditional and contemporary art forms and cultural events. We see Portland as host for a variety of cultural events, including the arts, entertainment, and sports competitions. We see gathering places for young and old people alike to develop their skills and share their talents with others. We see Portland as a place that is known for its celebration of local talent and commitment, rather than its recognition of those who have the most commercial success.
Culture Diversity & Acceptance
We see a community that embraces and appreciates the strengths and interests of a diverse population made greater by the common objectives of quality education, economic opportunity, public safety, and civic purpose. We also recognize that we are a homogenous community, and we value our common heritage. We recognize that homogenous communities, along with diverse communities, contribute to the larger diversity of the state, the country, and the world
Intergovernmental Cooperation & Regionalism
We see Portland as an integral part of a much greater region. We see our city working constructively with nearby townships, cities, and counties on a collective regional vision. In particular, we see a need for cooperation on issues such as water quality, air quality, transportation, economic tourism, agricultural tourism, and growth management.
A Picture of Portland
When we think of Portland, the following images come to mind: families, rivers, parks, trails, groups of people—young and old, bridges, the historic theater, the band shell, and families.