ALPENA - There are a variety of reasons people choose to live or visit Alpena. For some it is the proximity of the water and the parks and for others it is out of convenience of having shopping and employment nearby. A recent survey taken by the City of Alpena that will be used to help update the city's comprehensive plan shows more people than not are happy with living in the city, but most also believe there are steps local government can take to make it even more appealing and comfortable.
The survey, which was presented to the Alpena Planning Commission on Tuesday, shows that of the 147 people who took the online questionnaire 60.7 percent are satisfied with Alpena as a place to live; 24 percent indicated they were very satisfied and only 15.2 said they were dissatisfied. By comparison, people are split of what the city offers for quality of life. Thirty-two percent of the participants said they believe the quality of life in the city is the same as when they first moved here, while the same percentage claim it is worse. People who say the quality of living in Alpena has improved was 27.6 percent of the responses.
Kathy Morasky, who moved into the city from Alpena Township, said she is somewhat satisfied with living in the city. She said she believes local government needs to do more to keep the future generation local by helping businesses create employment opportunities for them. She said Alpena has many things going for it, the biggest being Thunder Bay. She said the activities the water provides is a benefit for residents and visitors alike, but there are also steps that need to be taken to make the shoreline even more attractive.
"I think the powers that be want to keep things from coming in and because of that what happens to our children? They are forced to move away. The younger generation has a very limited future in Alpena and that is a shame," Morasky said. "I still think they could clean up the beaches a little bit better. I think the condition of our beaches are a turn off to tourists.
"We have the glass-bottom boat, NOAA, lighthouses and a lot of things people can do on or in the water, I think that is wonderful, but the beaches need to be cleaned up or people won't want to use them."
Dave Lancewicz and his wife Rochelle live in the city. He also said he is somewhat satisfied with the living conditions in the city. Like Morasky, he believes the city's access to the lake is the biggest asset it has, but said the city now suffers because of the decline in fishing.
"I think Alpena is a great place to raise kids It is a safe environment to raise your children. There really isn't a lot of traffic and the crime I don't think is really bad," Lancewicz said.
Rochelle Lancewicz said although she would like to see more jobs in the city, she likes living in it because if you live too far from anything a family needs it takes longer to get there.
"You have access to everything you need," Lancewicz said. "If you live too far out and you need something like a gallon of milk you have to drive in to get it. Plus all of the activities for the kids are in the town, so it is nice to be close by to the thing we need and enjoy.'
Jim Paul has lived in the city for over 20 years. He said the marine sanctuary and the glass- bottom boats are great acquisitions to the city, but thinks the county and the city need to work more closely together to make camping and fishing more available to people from out of town. He said he likes living in the city, but some adjustments need to take place to make it more vibrant and attractive to people.
"I'm satisfied, but it could be better," Paul said. "We need to find ways to bring people into Alpena. As an example the county owns and operates the fairgrounds, but I think both could do a better job of working together to promote it and have it filled with campers. It is always empty. Plus the city has a lot of land on the water that it could use, but they choose not to use it. They are sitting on a gold mine and don't want to do anything with it to bring in people and money.That lake and our outdoors are beautiful and we need to utilize them as much as possible."
In terms of things the city struggles with, creating jobs was the top response. John Murphy lives near Beaver Lake, but spends a great deal of time in Alpena and is the former president of the Alpena Senior Center. He said he keeps current on city news and said the biggest challenge it faces are jobs and economic growth.
"The biggest problem I think is one of economics. There needs to be some growth and there needs to be some variety in shopping, which would provide an additional employer base," Murphy said. "We are sadly lacking large employers. There are no easy answers to the problems."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.