In August of 2010, the City of the Village of Douglas had the opportunity to host a design workshop sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and State University of New York (SUNY). This three day intensive workshop focused on local design problems and included a wide range of local and regional stakeholders.
On August 11, 12 & 13, local community members from Douglas, Saugatuck, Saugatuck Township and beyond gathered together to talk about the future of our small towns on the west coast of Michigan and designed possible solutions to local problems.
Spurred by a $22,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and SUNY, a group of 44 individuals gathered together for three days to learn about best practices in a variety of similar communities and to design new ways in which long-term goals for access to the waterfront and pedestrian connectivity could be achieved in Douglas. Dozens of different ideas were considered and discussed, though a handful of projects continued to be referenced by nearly all of the participants as being important to the economic and cultural future of the area. Access to the vast amount of waterfront property (along the Kalamazoo River and Kalamazoo Lake) was chief among them, followed closely by creating significant improvements to local streets, sidewalks and bicycle trails.
Our group of participants realized that many of the projects discussed would be beyond the typical funding methods included in an annual budget cycle and we are now beginning the process of forming a committee that will be responsible for prioritizing major projects and pursuing grant funding to implement them.
Please check back in the near future to review a copy of the report being created by the Walkable & Livable Communities Institute (www.walklive.org) and to learn about progress being made and the many ways in which you can get involved.