Waterford Township Clerk Sue Camilleri's interview with the Michigan Fitness Foundation
Shared from this website: http://www.michiganfitness.org/pac-spotlight-waterford
Coffee & Community: Creating a more vibrant Waterford
with the Promoting Active Communities program
How easy is it to bike and walk in your community? Are there existing bike lanes in your neighborhood? Are policies in place to ensure the development of sidewalks? There is an easy way to find answers to all the questions above: the Promoting Active Communities assessment.
“Even if you’ve lived somewhere your whole life, you still may not know all there is to know,” said Sue Camilleri, Township Clerk of Waterford Township.
The Promoting Active Communities (PAC) assessment tool helps communities gain an in-depth understanding of the policies, programs and built environments that accommodate physical activity in their community and then earn a PAC award for their efforts. To date, 147 Michigan communities from 58 counties have completed the PAC assessment at least once.
Communities designed for walkability, bikeability and physical activity often have higher real estate values, experience a boost in their local economy and report a greater sense of community togetherness. According to past participants, the PAC becomes a key resource for promoting the community once it is completed.
Grab your coffee and settle in to read our recent interview with Sue Camilleri on how the PAC gave Waterford “a sense of pride.” While you’re reading, think about what a PAC assessment could do in your area!
MFF: Why did you choose to fill out the Promoting Active Communities (PAC) program assessment?
Camilleri: First, to catalogue the assets available to the residents in Waterford Township and second, to identify what our shortcomings were so we could figure out how to fix them. Also, to make our residents aware of all the opportunities we, as a community have to offer. Even if you’ve lived somewhere your whole life, you still may not know all there is to know.
MFF: What approach did you take for gathering your team members to complete the PAC?
Camilleri: I initially made contact with our school district. They had completed it a few years prior and I knew their knowledge base would help with answering the questions. Also, the Planning, Parks and Recreation, and Engineering departments helped to pull information. It really was a team effort.
MFF: Which resources were the most helpful in the application process?
Camilleri: The staff in the township departments were a big help in gathering information because they were familiar with details and were willing to do this added job.
MFF: How has completing the PAC assessment changed opportunities for activity in your community?
Camilleri: Back in 2000 Waterford began construction on a river walk beside the Clinton River that bisects the township. Our goal was to make it more usable for residents. We secured all the easements we needed for the central portion of it and began construction. The portion that crossed M-59 was designed to go under the roadway, however construction stopped before the walkway came back up to grade after going below M-59. The PAC played an instrumental role in starting the conversation to determine the next step our community needed to take to complete the connection and bring it back to grade.
MFF: What benefits have you seen from the completion of the PAC assessment?
Camilleri: We announced receipt of the Bronze Level Award at a meeting of the Board of Trustees. These residents recognized the need to establish a non-motorized pathway master plan, made trustees aware of the community’s desire to have a more walkable community and encouraged them to take action.
MFF: What advice do you have for communities filling out the PAC assessment in the future?
Camilleri: At first the survey may seem daunting, so break it down into small pieces and get help from as many experts as possible. Little by little it will get done and turn into a great resource for your community in the future.
MFF: Do you have any other comments you would like to share?
Camilleri: This award has given us a sense of pride and sometimes that’s all it takes to get people to move forward.
The opportunities for activity the Promoting Active Communities (PAC) assessment helps to create is something each and every Michigan community can benefit from. The Michigan Fitness Foundation strives to “improve lives and strengthen communities by promoting healthy eating and active living,” and that is exactly what the PAC does. A healthier Michigan starts with you, let’s move together!