A principal planner in the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs and the department’s Main Street Oakland County program are each being honored by statewide organizations for contributing to the county’s quality of life.
Kristen Wiltfang is being recognized by the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance as the local government employee of the year for her work on the trail system in Oakland County and Southeast Michigan. She was to be honored during a ceremony at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing during Michigan Trails Week.
Main Street Oakland County, the first only countywide Main Street program in the United States, is being honored by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network with its 2019 Government/Institution Award. County Executive David Coulter was set to accept the award at the organization’s 25th annual Fall Benefit at the Pontiac Little Art Theatre.
“Congratulations to Kristen Wiltfang and Main Street Oakland County,” Coulter said. “When I was mayor of Ferndale, I witnessed just how much their work contributes to the quality of life in Oakland County communities.”
In 2015, Wiltfang was honored by the Clinton River Trail Alliance for her role in obtaining nearly $1 million in grant funding to help develop the 16-mile Clinton River Trail. Oakland County plans to complete 396 miles of primary trail routes, of which 138 miles have been constructed to date.
“There is simply no way that Michigan could ever build or maintain the thousands of miles of trails, both land and water, without the unique and enduring commitment that our dedicated trail workers have made to this state,” said Bob Wilson, executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.
Wiltfang has been a county employee since 2002. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University. She is a member of the non-motorized work group for the state Department of Natural Resources and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) Bike and Pedestrian Taskforce.
“It’s remarkable to see how trails, pathways and water trails can help to enhance a community’s character, history and environmental features,” Wiltfang said. “I have seen firsthand how these greenspaces can link people with the outdoors and encourage them to explore the special places that surround them. It is a joy to work with the towns and trail groups in Oakland County.”
Bret Rasegan, manager of the Oakland County Planning Division, was pleased the Alliance had recognized Wiltfang’s talents. He said trail planning and implementation takes many years.
“Kristen’s work advancing trail and non-motorized planning is critical to maintaining and improving the quality of life in Oakland County,” Rasegan said. “Her broad vision and understanding of the challenges related to implementing trail systems make her an invaluable resource at the local, regional and state level.”
Main Street Oakland County was honored for accomplishing significant positive changes in the historic preservation climate and sponsoring activities that have contributed to the preservation of Michigan’s heritage. There are 24 Oakland County communities in Main Street Oakland County. Eleven of the communities were honored with national accreditation by the National Main Street Center in Chicago.
In 2018, Main Street communities were responsible for $50.2 million of investment and the establishment of 60 new businesses.
Since inception in 2001, Main Street Oakland County communities have generated more than $837 million of public and private investment, established 1,163 businesses and created nearly 8,100 jobs.
Main Street is a trademarked program in the National Main Street Center. The program assists and supports civic leaders, businesses, local governments and citizens working to manage and develop their historic commercial districts, hamlets and traditional downtown centers.