The City of Kalamazoo named a Bicycle Friendly Community

On May 11, the League of American Bicyclists recognized the City of Kalamazoo with a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award.

With the announcement of 6 communities moving from an Honorable Mention to Bronze, 9 communities receiving a Bronze award on their first application, and 22 renewing BFCs today, Kalamazoo joins a group of communities, in all 50 states, that are transforming their neighborhoods. There are now 416 communities currently recognized with a BFC award for their efforts to make biking better.

“We applaud these communities for making improvements for people who bike in a ways that build upon their existing strengths and are based upon their particular needs, whether that is infrastructure, education, or encouragement,” said Bill Nesper, Executive Director at the League of American Bicyclists.

“We are encouraged by the way that communities are using bicycling as a part of their solution to issues of health, job access, traffic safety, and the environment and using our program to make progress in those issues. We look forward to continuing to work with these communities as part of our mission to build a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.”

The Bronze BFC award recognizes the City of Kalamazoo’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in infrastructure, pro-bicycling policies, and promoting bicycling. The BFC program provides a benchmark for communities to evaluate these conditions and policies, while highlighting areas for improvement. The national scope of the program also promotes competition and comparison between communities – with 416 currently recognized BFC there is always a model for your community to be found.

This year Kalamazoo will see the completion of the downtown segment of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, the completion of a trail segment through Upjohn Park, additional bike racks installed downtown and a road diet with bike lanes added to South Burdick Street, among other new lanes, routes, and improvements. A Complete Streets Policy is being drafted to ensure that all streets are planned, designed, constructed, operated, and maintained to enable a Vision Zero goal and provide accommodations for users of all ages and abilities. In 2016 the Kalamazoo City Commission passed a five-foot bicycle passing ordinance to improve safety for cyclists.

“We’re excited to officially be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community for the first time ever,” said Rebekah Kik, Director of Community Planning and Development. “We know we’re still at the beginning of this process and will continue to create safe and accessible routes for cyclists and all street users throughout the City.”

Each community that applies for a BFC award receives a report card which will be available in an award database at http://bikeleague.org/bfa/awards. Explanations of each award level and key data from each report card are available at http://bikeleague.org/content/building-blocks-bicycle-friendly-communities.

This announcement comes during National Bike Month, and right before Kalamazoo Bike Week begins on May 13. Visit www.kalamazoobikeweek.com for a complete list of events in Kalamazoo.

About the Bicycle Friendly America Program

The Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University programs are generously supported by program partner Planet Bike. The Bicycle Friendly Community program was created in 1995 and has processed more than 1,200 applications since 2002. To learn more about building a Bicycle Friendly America, visit www.bikeleague.org/BFA.

The League of American Bicyclists is leading the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. As leaders, our commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change.

$100,000 Grant from Consumers Energy Foundation Pushes Bronson Park Campaign Past Halfway

The Consumers Energy Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to support the City of Kalamazoo’s rehabilitation of Bronson Park, bringing the Bronson Park 21st Century campaign past the halfway mark of its $2.8 million goal. This funding will support the placement of an information kiosk which will greet visitors at one of the corners of the park.

“We are pleased to give the Kalamazoo community support to help revitalize an important downtown resource in Bronson Park,” said David Mengebier, President of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We are impressed by the work that city officials have done to improve the park and look forward to seeing it make Kalamazoo an even more attractive place to live and work.”

With this grant the Consumers Energy Foundation joins a broad group of supporters that includes the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, Rotary Club of Kalamazoo, Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (the Gun Lake Band), City of Kalamazoo, and many other organizations and community members.

“We really appreciate this support from the Consumers Energy Foundation and all of the supporters throughout this campaign,” said Sean Fletcher, Director of Parks & Recreation for the City of Kalamazoo. “Bronson Park is such an important space in our downtown and so many of us have a personal connection to it. We’re excited to make this amazing space even better.”

About the Consumers Energy Foundation

The Consumers Energy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Consumers Energy, giving Michigan cities, towns and neighborhoods the extra support needed to build communities that we’re proud to call home. The foundation provides grants and mobilizes volunteers to strengthen local education, social services, the environment, and community, economic and cultural development.

About the Bronson Park 21st Century Campaign

The Bronson Park 21st Century Campaign is a community effort to raise $2.8 million to improve Bronson Park. The Campaign is driven by the Bronson Park Master Plan, which was completed in 2016 after an extensive public planning effort. In addition to physical improvements to Bronson Park, the Plan also includes educational components to provide an accurate portrayal of Native American history and cultural experience, which are being created in partnership with the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi.

The City is grateful to the many dozens of community members who volunteer their time and talents to making the Campaign an ongoing success. You can learn more about the Bronson Park 21st Century Campaign or make a donation at www.kalamazoocity.org/bronsonpark.

Local Preservation Projects to be Honored with Historic Preservation Awards of Merit

The Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission (KHPC) will present its 2017 Awards of Merit on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, at 5:30 pm. The awards ceremony will be held at Riverview Launch located at 1523 Riverview Drive (the reception and awards ceremony will take place in the barn). The public is welcome to attend. Light refreshments will be served.

For more than two decades the KHPC has presented awards for preservation related projects in the city of Kalamazoo. Awards have been presented to places such as the Lincoln school, Zion Lutheran Church, as well as nearly three dozen single and multiple family homes, rental and owner-occupied housing rehabilitation projects, and new infill houses.

These awards are presented annually in May in local recognition of National Historic Preservation Month. This year’s award recipients have done an outstanding job rehabilitating a historic structure or have actively promoted or contributed to historic preservation in the city of Kalamazoo.

Residential Property Awards

W.G. Bartholomew House at 832 Elmwood: One of the oldest houses in the city, Jean Harden purchased the house at a tax sale auction in August of 2014. The house was originally located on West Main and was moved to the current location in the 1870s. Over three years, the owner has repaired structural issues, updated a bathroom and restored the original windows.

Commercial/Institutional Awards

Grand Trunk Western Depot at 421 & 427 East Michigan, Plazacorp Realty Advisors: This structure was built in 1890 as a one of over a dozen freight sheds located in downtown Kalamazoo (of which only two remain). When Plazacorp Realty Advisors purchased the property in 2014, the building had been vacant for several years. They wanted to pay tribute to the city’s industrial, manufacturing and agricultural past by returning the building to productive use.  The redevelopment was completed in late 2016 and the building houses two restaurants (Hop Cat and Maru) and office space.

City Savings Bank building at 1301 Portage, Kalamazoo County Land Bank: In 1920, the City Savings Bank built its first branch on the corner of Portage Street and Washington Avenue with room for small offices on the second floor used by doctors and dentists. Over the near century in between the building has been used as a drug store, laundromat and insurance agency. In 2013 the building was acquired by the Kalamazoo County Land Bank and with the assistance of a façade grant the exterior of the building was restored. A new restaurant will open in the building in May 2017.

Individual/Institutional Awards

Kalamazoo Public Library, Local History Room website “All About Kalamazoo History”: The Kalamazoo Public Library “All About Kalamazoo History” website is leader in web-based historical information and includes an online index of the Kalamazoo Gazette, hundreds of local photographs from three local institutions and nearly 600 interconnected web pages covering more than 20 categories. Pages about people and places from Kalamazoo’s past are a special delight, including biographies, cemeteries, rural schools, houses/buildings, businesses and institutions, researched and written by members of the Kalamazoo Public Library staff. This website is an invaluable resource for researchers ranging from middle school students competing in History Day to genealogists.

For more information about the Historic Preservation Awards of Merit or award winners, please call Sharon Ferraro, City of Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Coordinator at 269-337-8804 or email at ferraros@kalamazoocity.org for more information.

Enforcement of Grass and Weeds Violations to begin Monday, May 1

Enforcement of the City of Kalamazoo’s Tall Grass and Weeds Ordinance will begin on Monday, May 1.

Section 22-3 of the City of Kalamazoo Code of Ordinances identifies as a public nuisances “noxious weeds or any other weeds or grasses which have attained a height of 12 inches or more,” and that “it is unlawful for any person owning, occupying or in control of any lot or land, public or private, to allow, maintain or permit such nuisance to remain on such lot or land.”

In 2017 the City Commission approved a new fee schedule for violations of tall grass and weed violations to discourage repeat offenses and property owners relying on City staff for lawn care. The fine for the first violation is $127 and increases $50 with each additional violation up to a maximum of $277 for the fourth violation (and any beyond four). Additional fees will be incurred if the City is required to dispatch a mowing contractor to correct the violation on the property owner’s behalf.

Property owners are encouraged to maintain their properties to help keep our City and neighborhoods inviting, avoid costly fines, and help prevent the spread of noxious weeds and invasive plants. Citizens can report grass at or near 12” or noxious weeds by calling the 24-hour hotline at (269) 337-8847.

Hidden Kalamazoo Tour returns to Downtown Kalamazoo for its 5th Year

The Hidden Kalamazoo Tour returns to downtown Kalamazoo June 17 & 18, offering an opportunity to visit the City’s less traveled historic spaces before these windows into the past disappear.

This year the tour goes behind the scenes in spaces that have been in constant use for over 130 years, like Ladies Library, and other historic buildings currently in use such as the Park Club and the Park Trades Center. Hidden Kalamazoo will tour the vacant Masonic Temple building, poised for redevelopment in the near future, and venture further east on Michigan and Kalamazoo into the upper floors above the Old Dog Tavern and tour the nearby Muleskinner – an old wooden storefront with an attached interurban maintenance car! The tour also includes a bonus work-in-progress site downtown.

Returning from last year, three historic buildings constructed out of Legos will be on display in the atrium of City Hall for free to anyone who wants to visit. City Hall will also serve as a hub with book sales, ticket sales (if tickets are available), and restrooms. Across South Street in Bronson Park, interpreters will talk about the history of the park and answer questions about the Bronson Park 21st Century fundraising campaign.

Ticket sales are limited to 900 sold in advance of the tour to the general public. Tickets are just $15 for both days of the tour and are available beginning May 1st at City of Kalamazoo offices and select area businesses:

  • Spirit of Kalamazoo at 154 South Kalamazoo Mall
  • D&W at 2103 Parkview Avenue (at Oakland Drive)
  • D&W at 525 Romence Road in Portage
  • Kalamazoo City Hall (City Treasurer’s Office) at 241 W South Street
  • Kalamazoo Public Services Building at 415 Stockbridge

Previous Hidden Kalamazoo Tours have sold out in advance, so tickets may not be available during the tour.

Tourists can go from one site to the next on their own schedule and start and finish at any stop. Each site is staffed by a manager and a crew of tour guides. The tour sites for the 2017 Hidden Kalamazoo Tour are:

  • Ladies Library, 333 South Park
  • Park Club, 219 West South
  • Masonic Temple, 309 North Rose
  • Park Trades, 334 West Kalamazoo
  • Old Dog (Star Building), 402 East Kalamazoo
  • Muleskinner, 316 East Water
  • Bronson Park
  • City Hall (tour hub), 241 West South
  • AND THE SECRET SITE!

Hidden Kalamazoo is currently looking for volunteer tour guides. Volunteer guides will be asked to work one 3½ hour shift over the weekend and in return get a free ticket and an official Hidden Kalamazoo T-shirt. For more information about volunteering, email 1884@kalamazoocity.org.

The 5th Annual Hidden Kalamazoo Tour is sponsored by the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

About Hidden Kalamazoo

The Hidden Kalamazoo Tour began to showcase vacant downtown buildings and upper floors in the increasingly active and busy city center. For the fifth year the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission has offered the opportunity for people to go where only maintenance staff and business owners were allowed. In 2013 and 2015 the tickets sold out almost a week before the tour.

When the tornado swept through downtown Kalamazoo in 1980, most of the upper floors of downtown buildings were vacant or used only for storage. Today, only eight old buildings are completely unused upstairs, and new construction is changing the skyline. The upper floors have been redeveloped into beautiful apartments or comfortable new offices with high ceilings, beautiful woodwork and an atmosphere only old buildings offer.

The Hidden Kalamazoo tour is a fundraiser for the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission, a self-funded city advisory board. You can follow the Tour on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or at www.hiddenkalamazoo.com

More information, contact Sharon Ferraro at 1884@kalamazoocity.org or (269) 337-8804.

Lifting of Kaywood, Doncrest, Junedale, Alamo Ave Boil Water Advisory

As of Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at 5:00 p.m., the precautionary boil water advisory issued April 24, 2017 has been lifted by the City of Kalamazoo, in cooperation with the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department. Citizens in the affected area can now use City water for consumption as well as all other purposes. Bacteriological sampling within the affected area verified that the water is safe to drink.

The affected area includes all of Kaywood Drive, all of Doncrest Drive, all of Junedale Drive, and the houses on Alamo Avenue only on the north side of the Kaywood Drive/Alamo Avenue intersection.

The understanding and cooperation of affected residents, businesses and institutions is much appreciated.

City of Kalamazoo Department of Public Services
269-337-8737

Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department
Environmental Health Director
269-373-5337

Arbor Day to be Celebrated with the Planting of Trees at Reed Street park

To commemorate National Arbor Day on Friday, April 28, three trees will be planted in Reed Street Park. One Dawn Redwood, one Saw Tooth Oak, and one Red Katsura were chosen to beautify and provide shade in the park, which lost one of its largest trees last year.\

The tree planting will begin at 2:00 p.m. at 1700 Portage Street, near the corner of Portage and Reed Streets. Volunteers are welcome and encouraged to attend and assist with the planting.
This event is organized by the City of Kalamazoo’s Forestry Division, Department of Parks & Recreation, Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, and Tree Committee. Vice Mayor Don Cooney will be in attendance to commemorate the event.

The City of Kalamazoo has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA for the past 24 years. To be recognized, a City must have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance, a forestry program, and observe Arbor Day, among other requirements.

Kaywood, Doncrest, Junedale, Alamo Boil Water Advisory

The City of Kalamazoo Department of Public Services repaired a water main break near the intersection of Kaywood Drive and Junedale Drive, north of Alamo Avenue in Kalamazoo Township. A precautionary boil water advisory is being issued in cooperation with the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department for all water intended for drinking within the affected area due to a temporary pressure loss that occurred within the water main during the repair. The affected area includes all of Kaywood Drive, all of Junedale Drive, all of Doncrest Drive, and the houses on Alamo Avenue only on the north side of the Kaywood Drive/Alamo Avenue intersection.

This advisory is precautionary only; there have not been any confirmed tests showing bacteria present in the water main at the location of the break. Initial sampling results will be available within 24 hours of its collection and the final set within 48 hours. The work has been completed and the advisory will be lifted within 72 hours, pending sample results.

Municipal water customers in the affected area may boil their tap water for 2 minutes prior to use for drinking. No special precautionary measures are necessary for water used for personal hygiene.

City of Kalamazoo Department of Public Services
269-337- 8737

Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department
Environmental Health Director
269-373- 5337

Draft Kalamazoo Climate Action Plan Now Available for Public Review, Comment

Since January 2017, The City of Kalamazoo has been collaborating with students in the Master of International Development Administration (MIDA) program at Western Michigan University to develop a climate action plan for the City of Kalamazoo,

The students were enrolled in the MIDA program’s capstone seminar, Political Science 6380: Planning Development Programs. This course typically involves planning hypothetical projects that could be implemented somewhere in the  developing world. This year the class was presented with a unique opportunity to collaborate with the City to develop a plan to address challenges that will arise due to our changing climate. In the midst of the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 project, then-City Planner Rebekah Kik challenged the class to identify the most important actions the City of Kalamazoo could take to minimize its contribution to climate change.

Since then, the class has talked with dozens of local stakeholders and examined what other communities across the United States are doing or have done to address these issues. The results of this effort is a draft Climate Action Plan for the City of Kalamazoo.

UPDATE, MAY 2, 2017: The public comment peried for this plan has ended.  

Stadium Drive/W Michigan Ave Boil Water Advisory

The City of Kalamazoo Department of Public Services is repairing a water main break just west of the Stadium Drive/West Michigan Avenue and West Lovell Street intersection. A precautionary boil water advisory is being issued in cooperation with the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department for all water intended for drinking within the affected area due to a temporary pressure loss that will occur within the water main during the repair. The affected area includes Stadium Drive/West Michigan Avenue from Eldred Street to the west, and east to West Lovell Street, as shown on the attached figure.

This advisory is precautionary only; there have not been any confirmed tests showing bacteria present in the water main at the location of the break.  Initial sampling results will be available within 24 hours of its collection and the final set within 48 hours. It is expected that the work will be completed on February 15 and the advisory will be lifted within 72 hours.

Municipal water customers in the affected area may boil their tap water for 2 minutes prior to use for drinking. No special precautionary measures are necessary for water used for personal hygiene.

Contact:

City of Kalamazoo Department of Public Services
269-337-8737

Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department
Environmental Health Director
269-373-5337