Visitors’ impressions of Monroe County

I’ve had a summer of out-of-town visitors, and that means showing them the local sights.

Their first impressesions of Monroe County often are interesting. I’ve noticed these observations in the last few weeks:

– Monroe’s downtown seems to have sooooo much potential. First-time visitors are amazed to see the River Raisin, the quaint streetscapes, the Custer statue and St. Mary’s Park, the proximity to a Great Lake – and the dearth of development. Why have so many towns and small cities with so much less to offer managed to create thriving downtown areas, while Monroe still struggles?

– The lack of access to Lake Erie startles people. We often take visitors to Luna Pier, because, well, there aren’t many other options if you want a glimpse of Lake Erie.

Again, veteran travelers who have seen thriving waterfronts on lakes much less impressive than Erie, can’t believe the lack of development. And their jaws drop when they hear the property values.

– When we show visitors the land between Sterling State Park and downtown Monroe, including the proposed battlefield park and the proposed bike path from the lake to the college, they nod in understanding.

“That’s more like it,” is the response. “That’s the kind of vision that Monroe needs to catch up to the rest of the world.”

Connecting the city to the lake; connecting a national battlefield park to both the lake and the city; using the river as a assett instead of an afterthought; tieing downtown in with the area’s other highlights – its history and its lake – all that makes sense to visitors who are frequent travelers and have seen many tourism-related developments around the country.

Now, if we can just do it.


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