New tables, benches for sidewalks

ALPENA -Downtown Alpena promises to be a busy place this summer and thanks to a donation by a local businessman, along with support from the Alpena Downtown Development Authority people will have places to take a break from their sightseeing, shopping or to get out of the sun for a spell.

Chris and Missy LeFave donated 10 new umbrella tables and 10 benches that were placed throughout downtown Friday in various sections of town where people can utilize them. The additions are just another step in the process to continue growing momentum downtown, as tourist traffic amps up. DDA Director Lesslee Dort said the tables and benches will provide a sense of hospitality both people from out of town and those who live nearby can enjoy.

“Downtown is going to be hopping and the new furniture will encourage visitors and residents alike to relax, have a bite to eat, read a book and enjoy the downtown,” Dort said. “The DDA and the Alpena Convention and Visitor’s Bureau are going to team up and order umbrellas for the tables and they should be out into the tables in a few weeks to offer shade and a little coolness during the summer to those who want it, We just going to keep going and moving forward to make sure our residents and guests have the best possible experience they can downtown.”

The LeFaves own several downtown businesses and know first hand how important it is to make it feel inviting and comfortable. He said having simple amenities like tables outside local businesses are important.

“Having the right infrastructure in place is critical and you need to have places where people can gather and feel at home and relax,” Chris LeFave said. “Downtown is a cool sort to come out have fun and support your local businesses.”

LeFave said they donated the tables and benches because of the support the community has provided them and it was a way to help make a difference downtown.

“We love Alpena and are passionate about the success of our hometown,” he said. “It is just the right thing to do. We travel often and we do the types of things the tables and benches are designed for and we just thought it was essential to have these amenities in our own backyard. It is a a small piece of the puzzle, but we’re proud to be a part of this project with the DDA, because collaboration is the key to success. To quote Mother Teresa, ‘If we all sweep our own front porch. We will have an amazing community.'”

Last year the DDA provided local businesses sidewalk art and decorations which contained flowers and plants in an effort to spruce up the appearance downtown. Dort said this year the decorations will be back and that there will be even more flowers than in years past.

“The decorations will be back out soon. Some will be back at the same business and some will be moved to different locations, so they are spread out a little bit and to give everyone an opportunity to have them,” Dort said. “We will also be putting the hanging flower baskets back out and this year we will have increased the number by 40 percent, so we will have 50 instead of 35. We are going to stretch things out over the Second Avenue bridge, because we want to include Old Town, because the walk across the bridge and the business are incredible.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at