Schoolcraft Approves Bidder for Vision Plan

Pictured left to right: Carl Baxmeyer, Wightman & Associates; Sy Spears village of Schoolcraft trustee; Alan Smaka, Wightman & Associates; Christopher Vargo, Schoolcraft; Jorden Parker, Wightman & Associates; Shelby Kintz, Wightman & Associates. This is the group that worked on the public engagement piece for the Vision Plan at Schoolcraft’s Homecoming game.

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft Village Council approved a $56,710 bid from Benton Harbor-based engineering firm Wightman & Associates to spearhead the village’s new master and vision plan for the community.

“Their people worked best for what we were looking for in having this vision plan in place,” trustee Sy Spears said. “I felt like they were the right people to push us along in this process.”

Wightman & Associates will construct a master plan for future village projects. These will include identifying growth opportunities including possible new buildings and public spaces.

Wightman architect and project manager Jordan Parker said the vision part of the plan will graphically illustrate the ideas of the master plan. He said taking this approach usually helps communities better understand what goes into the master plan and helps inspire the village to complete it.

Parker said the plan would also look at identifying and adjusting ordinance issues within the village. A common one that comes up is parking. He said this may include businesses with too much parking or with spaces that are too large or too small or on street parking issues.

At the meeting, most of the trustees were in agreement that something needed to be done to improve the community.

Trustee Todd Carlin didn’t like the costs of the project and was the only one who voted against it. But trustee Michael Rochholz said it was needed to help make the community more appealing. “It’s an investment into a process,” Rochholz said. Village President Keith Gunnett agreed. “It is a lot of money, but sometimes you have to spend some money,” he said.

Right now, the council and Wightman don’t even know what sort of projects the plans might take on. That will be determined through a public engagement process that has already started with a booth at Schoolcraft’s homecoming football game. Parker said they are planning to hold three workshops to gain more input from the public.

The dates for these workshops haven’t been determined yet, but Parker said they are tentatively looking at October for the first one. Parker also noted Wightman and the council would be going into the process with an open mind and they are looking to get as many people from as many generations as they can at the workshops to provide feedback and ideas.

“No decisions will be made in a cave, so to speak,” Parker said.

The council also heard a short presentation from Rachael Grover of the Kalamazoo County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority about a plan for D&D Realty and Metal Mechanics to redevelop the property at 400 S. 14th Street.

“There’s soil contamination on the property and there’s also groundwater contamination coming from off site,” Grover said. Several council members praised the idea for helping clean up and develop what would otherwise be unwanted property.

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