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At the City of Kalamazoo City Commission meeting on September 18, City Attorney Clyde Robinson presented to the City Commission an update on the State’s progress on the roll-out of its medical marihuana facility licensing program. The State licensing process is not on track to be ready by December 15, so emergency rules will likely be put into effect in late November of this year.

This uncertainty in the State regulatory framework means any ordinances addressing medical marihuana facilities the City might adopt before December 15, 2017, the date when license applications can be filed with the State, may need to be amended once the final licensing program is in place.  The City Commission by consensus agreed with the recommendation by the City Attorney to postpone consideration of the Zoning Ordinance amendments and a proposed local licensing ordinance until after the promulgation of emergency rules by the State.

The City of Kalamazoo appreciates all the feedback over the last few months which has helped shape the draft ordinance amendments associated with the 2016 Medical Marihuana Legislation.  As updates become available we will continue to post information here. To join a mailing list and receive updates on these ordinances and other changes related to medical marihuana in Kalamazoo, contact eldridgep@kalamazoocity.org.

The City of Kalamazoo is currently drafting three ordinances related to medical marihuana. In summary, the three proposed ordinances would:

  1. Amend the current City zoning code provisions permitting a registered caregiver under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act to operate as a home occupation so as to bring the ordinance in conformance with recent legislative and regulatory changes.
  2. Amend the City zoning code to define those zoning districts where proposed commercial medical marihuana facilities, as permitted by the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, may be located in the City.
  3. Amend the City code of ordinances to set licensing and operational standards for commercial medical marihuana facilities operating in the City.

Two public input sessions were held in July to obtain feedback on the proposals.  These ordinances will be presented to the Planning Commission and subsequently to the City Commission for consideration and possible adoption in September or October.

Medical Marihuana Public Forum Feedback

Proposed Ordinance Drafts:

Draft Maps (updated September 1, 2017):

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We would like to welcome all of our new and returning students (back) to Kalamazoo and we hope you have a great and successful year! We encourage you to explore and take advantage of what our city has to offer while you're not in class or participating in campus life and activities. Kalamazoo has a great variety of entertainment and cultural attractions; visual art, theatre, dance, diverse restaurants, a great local music scene, and many performance venues throughout the City.

Below are some helpful links that can help you make the most of your time in Kalamazoo. Have a great year!

Important numbers

  • Emergency: 911
  • Campus Safety (non-emergency): (269) 387-1000
  • Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (non-emergency): (269) 337-8997
  • City of Kalamazoo, City Manager's Office: (269) 337-8047
  • Water (billing): (269) 337-8149
  • Water/Sewer emergency: (269) 337-8148
  • Water Supply Quality: (269) 337-8756
  • Solid Waste & Recycling: (269) 337-8215
  • Tree Maintenance: (269) 337-8731
  • Sidewalk Concerns: (269) 337-8731
  • Engineering/Street Construction: (269) 337-8601
  • Potholes: (269) 337-8731
  • Water Testing: (269) 337-8550
  • Parks & Recreation: (269) 337-8191

Get involved

The City maintains a bi-monthly email list to provide residents with news, updates, events, and other helpful information. Information is also frequently posted on our Facebook page and Twitter feed. Connecting with the City is an easy way to stay informed and find out about events and opportunities to get involved in the Kalamazoo community. More information is available at www.kalamazoocity.org/connect

The Kalamazoo City Commission, the elected representatives of the City, meet on the first and third Wednesday every month. All meetings are open to the public and attendees are welcome to comment on specific items from the agenda, or provide general comments at the conclusion of each meeting. Commission meetings are also broadcast live on Public Media Network Government Channel 190 and on the City's YouTube Channel

The City of Kalamazoo is currently in the process of updating its strategic vision and 10-year master plan. The Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 process is asking residents and visitors to provide their feedback on what they want to see for Kalamazoo's future. You can participate online at www.imaginekalamazoo.com or attend any of the community meetings as they come up. 

Information for off campus living

Many students choose to rent an apartment or house and live off campus. The following information will help you take advantage of City services and avoid any potential fines for code violations:

  • If your off-campus residence is in the City of Kalamazoo, DO check www.kalamazoocity.org/Rental-Housing-Inspections and choose Rental Database Search to see if it is properly registered and certified as a rental (or call 337-8026).
  • DO find out your trash pick-up day and place your herby-curby out the night before. DO replace the herby-curby to an appropriate location at the side or rear of the dwelling by the end of the day of pick-up.
  • DO find out the schedule for once quarterly bulk trash pick-up. Use this service for disposing of large quantities of rubbish, furniture or approved appliances. Call 337-8215 for more information.
  • DO keep interior furniture inside, not on porches, decks or balconies, as this may result in a cost recovery fee charged to you as tenant if your landlord is cited.
  • When you have a problem with your rental property, DO try and call the rental property owner or agent first, and put it in writing if needed. If you do not get a timely response feel free to fill out a service request and submit it to the City.
  • DO keep the batteries in all smoke detectors fresh, this may save your life!
  • DO keep the yard and common areas free of clutter, junk, garbage and debris.
  • DO refrain from parking on the lawn or in other non-approved parking areas.
  • Please DO be aware that many student rentals are in neighborhoods where families live, so be a GOOD NEIGHBOR!

The City of Kalamazoo has partnered with Recycle Coach to offer residents customized service information on their mobile devices. Download the free Recycle Coach app for Android or iPhone for customized collection schedules, alerts, and information on what can or cannot be recycled. 

On-street parking

City ordinance prohibits on-street parking ON ALL CITY STREETS between the hours of 2:00 a.m. - 6:00 a.m. Unless a street is specifically signed to permit parking, you will be ticketed if you park your vehicle overnight on any street.

View from the Curb

Twice a year, the City produces a newsletter detailing updates and schedules for the public services we provide. The View from the Curb contains information on recycling, bulk trash collection, leaf collection, snow removal, and other services, as well as contact information for questions, issues, or more information. A copy is delivered to each address once in the fall and once in the spring. You can view the latest View from the Curb online here

Metro Transit

Students at Western Michigan University can ride Kalamazoo's Metro Transit system for no additional charge (simply show your valid WMU student I.D. when boarding). The Metro Transit system makes it easy to travel throughout the City and the surrounding area without needed to own a car or worry about parking. A free "Track My Bus" app is also available for iPhone and Android users that can locate individual buses & arrival times, find routes, and help plan your trip. An online version is also available here.

The Metro Transit system operates Monday - Friday from 6:00 a.m. - 12:15 a.m., Saturdays from 6:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m., and Sundays* from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Complete route information is available here.

*Sunday service begins on September 11, 2016

Elections & voting

If you need to register to vote or change your registration, you may do so by visiting the Kalamazoo City or County Clerk's Office, or a branch of the Michigan Secretary of State (NOTE: changing your voter registration will change your driver's license address). You must register to vote on or before the close of registration preceding the election at which you seek to vote. For the November 8, 2016 Presidential Election, the last day to register is Tuesday, October 11, 2016. Complete details about voting and registration are available in pdf this document (116 KB) , at www.kalamazoocity.org/elections, or by calling the Kalamazoo City Clerk's Office at (269) 337-8793.

You can also check your registration status and view sample ballots at www.michigan.gov/vote.

Parks & Recreation

Kalamazoo's Department of Parks & Recreation maintains 33 parks in the City and offers a wide variety of programs for youth of all ages. Field trips, sports, competitions, summer camps, and holiday events are available every year, along with recreational sports leagues for adults. Parks & Rec also offers unique events such as the Envirologic Eco Raft Race that is coming up on Saturday, October 1st. For more information, visit www.kzooparks.org or call (269) 337-8191.

Imagine a vibrant, prosperous, and equitable city, where people want to live, work, and raise families. Imagine being a more beautiful and livable city each year, more innovative and connected. Imagine having more jobs and less poverty, and providing young people with the jump-starts they need in life.

Structural budget challenges have for many years impeded the City’s effort to make its vision a reality. The Foundation For Excellence is a unique innovation by the City of Kalamazoo and private donors to address systemic challenges to the prosperity of the city. The Foundation will provide $70.3 million to stabilize the city’s budget, lower its property tax rate, and for $10 million of aspirational community projects per year through 2019. During this period, a community fundraising effort will be launched to create a fully endowed foundation that can sustain this funding in perpetuity. You can make a donation to the Foundation for Excellence here

The Foundation’s financial model is being structured in such a way as to do the most good with the most efficient use of resources possible. The Foundation will work to establish strategic partnerships with organizations whose mission and work aligns with the goals and objectives of the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Strategic Vision and Master Plan, the Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo plan, and the City of Kalamazoo. These plans are built around the City’s deep investment in broad community involvement and collaboration. Each reflects a pathway to improve life for all residents of Kalamazoo. 

Founding Documents:

Make a donation to the Foundation for Excellence here

August 25: The legal documents that will establish the new Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence (FFE) were officially signed on Wednesday, August 23  by lead donors Bill Johnston  and Bill Parfet and Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell and City Manager James K. Ritsema.  Hopewell and Ritsema represented the City in the signing of the Articles of Incorporation, which the Kalamazoo City Commission approved during its meeting on Monday, August 21, 2017.

The initial donors to the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence, Johnston and Parfet, will now become co-chairs of a fundraising campaign tasked with raising upwards of $500 million dollars from corporations, individuals, private foundations, and other interested parties by 2019. Along with the articles of incorporation, a letter of intent signed by the co-chairs will serve as a guideline for a future fifteen-member Board of Directors, nine of whom must reside in Kalamazoo, as they carry out their duties to disperse foundation funds to the City.

The FFE is structured to operate solely for the benefit of the City of Kalamazoo and is believed to be the first entity of its kind in the nation. It will allow for the private sector to make “charitable type” donations to a municipal body (the City of Kalamazoo) in order to support and supplement its normal sources of revenue, thereby aiding dramatically in the City’s ability to flourish.   The FFE is a historic shift from one of scarcity, tough choices, and financial uncertainty to one focused on improving lives in our community, investing in our City, and creating a brighter future.  The FFE intends to complement existing philanthropic efforts in Kalamazoo and to seek opportunities to align the funding community around common goals to achieve greater impact, particularly for those residents experiencing the greatest need.

In recent years, Kalamazoo’s municipal budget has faced structural shortfalls of income created by cutbacks in support from the State of Michigan, reduced property values, and declining employment. As a result, the City has been forced to cover the income gap by cutting back on services such as public safety and road repairs.

The Foundation for Excellence provides funding each year for aspirational projects, alleviating generational poverty, and realizing the community vision that was established in the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Visioning Process that resulted in the City’s new Strategic Vision and Master Plan. These documents were shaped by 3,800 community contacts over an 18 month period with the intention of lifting up the voices of residents in City planning processes.  FFE funding will expedite progress towards Imagine Kalamazoo goals and move the City in a direction that is consistent with our community values.

In 2017, FFE funding has been approved for three park improvements projects, the accelerated removal of lead water services, repairing and building sidewalks, additional tree trimming, and three key Parks & Recreation programs that provide educational and employment opportunities for youth. Property owners have also already seen the effect of the FFE on their summer property tax statements.

"This unique and innovative approach to making Kalamazoo a dynamic and successful community for all is very exciting" said campaign co - chair Bill Johnston. “This collaborative citizen driven planning approach to forming "Imagine Kalamazoo 2025" is energizing. The challenges and opportunities before us are both significant and amazing. Through the Foundation for Excellence as a supporting organization for our great City we now have the mechanism to provide significant program support for the City of Kalamazoo that creates a model that lifts families and breaks the cycle of generational poverty. I am very optimistic that individuals, businesses, private and community foundations will eagerly contribute to this wonderful opportunity before us.”

FFE Donor Intent, Signed August 23, 2017

FFE Articles of Incorporation, Signed August 23, 2017

FFE Bylaws, Signed August 25, 2017

August 21: The Kalamazoo City Commission passed a resolution approving incorporation of a new foundation, known as the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence (FFE), organized for the purpose of supporting and benefiting the operation and programs of the City of Kalamazoo.

The Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence is a project of singular significance for the fiscal well-being of the City of Kalamazoo. Two lead donors initially provided $70.3 million over three years to stabilize the City’s budget, to lower the property tax rate from 19.2705 mills to 12 mills, and for $10 million of aspirational community projects annually in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

It is the objective of the FFE to raise an additional $500+ million in order to endow the FFE’s work in perpetuity.

The Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation included in Monday night’s resolution were the product of significant work by staff based on the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Kalamazoo and the lead donors that was approved by the City Commission at its October 24, 2016 Work Session. Additional City Commission Work Sessions were held on October 24, 2016, as well as January 23, July 24, and August 7 of 2017 to thoroughly explore aspects and details of FFE’s creation and to offer extensive and open opportunities for public comment.

Numerous technical, human, and economic resources were consulted to inform the planning of the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence, but few will shape the FFE’s work as definitively as the citizen input cultivated by the Imagine Kalamazoo process or its resulting ten-year Strategic Vision, which was approved by the City Commission on July 17, 2017, and forthcoming Master Plan.

Foundation For Excellence Resolution (Final Draft)

Foundation for Excellence Articles of Incorporation

Foundation for Excellence Proposed Bylaws

August 7: The Kalamazoo City Commission will continue the discussion of proposed Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation for the Foundation for Excellence during its regularly scheduled August 7 meeting. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall. City Commission meetings are also televised on PMN Channel 190 and on the City of Kalamazoo’s YouTube Channel.

Draft Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation were introduced to the City Commission during a Work Session on July 24. City staff have prepared additional information related to issues that were raised at the Work Session, which is available here.

Following this additional discussion at the August 7 meeting, it is anticipated that the City Commission will consider the Articles and Bylaws for approval on August 21.

Revised Articles of Incorporation, August 3, 2017

Revised Bylaws, August 3, 2017

July 24, 2017: On Monday, July 24 at 6:00 p.m. the Kalamazoo City Commission will convene for a work session focused on the Foundation for Excellence. The work session will be held in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall and will be televised live on Public Media Network Channel 187 and streamed on the City of Kalamazoo’s YouTube Channel.

The specific focus of the meeting will be the proposed bylaws and articles of incorporation for the new Foundation for Excellence. Since the FFE was approved in October 2016, City staff have explored best practices and worked with community partners and donors to draft the legal structure and rules of the Foundation. They will be presented to the City Commission for review and discussion and could be presented for approval as early as the August 7 meeting.

The documents spell out the details of how the FFE will operate, such as how the Board of Directors and Officers are selected, how meetings are scheduled and conducted, how projects are ultimately chosen for funding and the relationship between the FFE and the City Commission.

“We did our homework before preparing these documents and have consulted with our community partners, the Michigan Council of Foundations and reviewed other foundations across the country with similar missions,” explained City Manager Jim Ritsema. “The structure and bylaws we will present will set the FFE up for long-term success and provide funding to make our aspirations a reality.”

The proposed bylaws and articles of incorporation are available here.

In addition to $70.3 million to fund a three-year transition period through 2019, the Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the lead donors included a commitment to assist in a fundraising effort to raise the approximately $500 million needed to fully endow the Foundation and sustain its work in perpetuity. After the documents are approved, this fundraising effort will begin and the Foundation’s Board of Directors will be selected.

Several Kalamazoo residents have already shown their support for the Foundation’s work by electing to donate a portion of their 2017 property tax savings back to the FFE.

“We are continuing to see strong support for the Foundation for Excellence and for the important investments that it will enable in our city,” said Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell. “With each step in the progress we are getting closer and closer to ensuring this will continue for generations to come, making our city a better place and helping all in our community to realize their potential.”

April 3, 2017: On April 3, the Kalamazoo City Commission unanimously approved $883,000 to fund the expansion of three youth development programs offered by the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation. The programs that will benefit are Supervised Playground, All Things Possible, and Summer Youth Employment programs.

The Supervised Playground Program and All Things Possible were offered as pilot programs in 2016, and the Summer Youth Employment program has been offered since 2005 in partnership with Youth Opportunities Unlimited. These programs support the goal of the City Commission and the Foundation for Excellence to promote youth development and shared prosperity by keeping youth engaged in the summer months through  learning, career exploration, work experience and employment. All three have proven successful and meet demonstrated needs in our community.

“We’re really excited to be able to expand these programs to more of Kalamazoo’s youth this year,” said Sean Fletcher, Director of Parks & Recreation for the City.  “We never want to have to turn kids away from opportunities to learn, explore their interests, or even just play in a safe environment. These types of programs cultivate skills and provide experience that helps create a path toward future success. “

March 27, 2017: On March 27, the Commission met to explore poverty reduction, shared prosperity, and youth development in Kalamazoo. Dr. Tim Ready, Associate Professor of Sociology at Western Michigan University and Director of the Lewis Walker Institute provided background on current conditions in the City to begin the discussion. Assistant City Manager Laura Lam then led a discussion on the efforts of the Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo Initiative and other organizations that are working together to address these issues through employee resource networks, prisoner reentry programs, affordable housing, and financial literacy programs. Many of these strategies were also identified by community members through the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 process. 

The work session concluded with a presentation by Kalamazoo Parks & Recreation which highlighted programs that have made an impact in these areas. The All Things Possible, Supervised Playground, and Summer Youth Employment programs were featured with the hope of building upon their success in 2017 and opening these opportunities to more youth. Funding for their expansion is up for consideration by the City Commission at its April 3 meeting. 

March 1, 2017: The City Commission Retreat scheduled for this Saturday, March 4 has been cancelled. The Foundation For Excellence was to be a main topic of discussion and members of the City Commission and City Officials agreed that additional work was necessary before bringing additional details forward.

“In this first year of the Foundation For Excellence, it is critically important that we not only choose the right projects and programs to realize our vision for Kalamazoo’s future, but that we set up the FFE for long-term success from the beginning,” said City Manager Jim Ritsema. “In discussions with the City Commission, we concluded that more time was needed to achieve these goals and that it was appropriate to cancel this weekend’s retreat.”

City staff will continue working with the City Commission and subject matter experts to establish the legal framework and processes for the Foundation, including the processes for directing the use of funds.

Despite the cancellation of this retreat, the Foundation For Excellence is expected to be a regular topic at City Commission meetings and future work sessions.  A City Commission retreat may still be held later this year. 

More information on the Foundation For Excellence is available at www.kalamazoocity.org/foundation. Information about the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 community visioning process, which will influence the investment of FFE resources, is available at www.imaginekalamazoo.com

January 23, 2017: The Kalamazoo City Commission convened on January 23 to examine how projects and programs will be selected for funding by the Foundation For Excellence. City officials presented a clearer definition of what the term "aspirational" means in relation to potential FFE programs, and demonstrated how proposals will be evaluated. A scoring process takes into account each project or proposal's impact on community results, as well as other attributes such as the portion of the community served, community partnerships involved, and the readiness of the project/program for implementation. The priorities of the City Commission also are a factor; proposals that align with their prioritized community results will be favored in the selection process. 

With 2017 being the first year of the Foundation For Excellence, the selection process for projects and programs is being created as plans are made for this year. A pdf draft summary of potential goals (106 KB) was provided at the January 23 work session which draws on the input obtained through the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 process. A variety of goals are included in the draft such as increasing the quantity of affordable housing, creating safer streets through traffic calming, improving and encouraging non-motorized commuting, expanding opportunities for youth employment & career exploration, and increasing community policing efforts. 

The City Commission will continue discussing the Foundation For Excellence at their annual retreat on Saturday, March 4 at 8:30 a.m. in the Governing Board Room at Metro Transit (530 N Rose St). During the retreat proposed 2017 projects and programs will be presented, and the Commission will discuss 2017 priorities. 

You can view the presentation slides pdf here (1.49 MB) and the draft of potential Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 goals pdf here (106 KB) .

October 24, 2016: At a Special Work Session Held on October 24, the Kalamazoo City Commission voted to approve an initial agreement for the creation of the proposed Foundation For Excellence.

The agreement is outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Kalamazoo and the Foundation's lead donors. After it was introduced on July 28, the City Commission directed City Manager Jim Ritsema to continue developing the Foundation For Excellence model and bring a proposal to the Commission for review. This MOU is the first step in that process and will provide a basis for the more detailed work to come.

The MOU states that the donors agree to provide a donation of $70.3 million over the next three years; to generate support and contributions from additional donors for the Foundation for Excellence; to promote and support a goal of having the Foundation fully endowed within three years.

The City agrees to create a separate City-controlled fund to receive the initial donation; to create the non-profit Foundation for Excellence entity by August 31, 2017 into which the donation and future contributions will be deposited; to develop a budget for fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019 that incorporates a 12 mill tax rate; to allocate $10 million in each of those years to aspirational projects for youth development & poverty reduction, investments in capital and human infrastructure, and neighborhood improvement projects; to continue exploring further budgetary savings through shared services; and to develop best practices and measures to demonstrate the impact of the donation, efforts, and initiatives.

Rob Collier, the President and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations, attended the October 17 City Commission meeting to offer suggestions for the development of the Foundation For Excellence, and also provided advice in a Letter to Mayor Hopewell and City Manager Jim Ritsema. City Officials will continue consulting with other foundations and subject matter experts to ensure the Foundation is structured in the optimal way to benefit all members of our community in perpetuity.

City Officials will now begin establishing the legal rules that will govern and regulate the activities of the Foundation. The final plan will be returned to the City Commission for approval before the Foundation For Excellence is officially created.

October 18, 2016: A formal agreement between the City of Kalamazoo and initial backers of the proposed Foundation for Excellence will be the topic of a City Commission Work Session to be held Monday, October 24. Commissioners will review a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines the agreement and could vote on the Memorandum that evening. The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. at Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Anna Whitten Hall, 202 N Rose Street.

In July, the City Commission directed City Manager Jim Ritsema to continue developing the Foundation for Excellence model and to bring a proposal to the City Commission for review. This Memorandum formally outlines the commitments, intentions, and expectations of all parties.

The MOU states that the donors agree to provide a donation of $70.3 million over the next three years; to generate support and contributions from additional donors for the Foundation for Excellence; to promote and support a goal of having the Foundation fully endowed within three years. 

The City agrees to create a separate City-controlled fund to receive the initial donation; to create the non-profit Foundation for Excellence entity by August 31, 2017 into which the donation and future contributions will be deposited; to develop a budget for fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019 that incorporates a 12 mill tax rate; to allocate $10 million in each of those years to aspirational projects for youth development & poverty reduction, investments in capital and human infrastructure, and neighborhood improvement projects; to continue exploring further budgetary savings through shared services; and to develop best practices and measures to demonstrate the impact of the donation, efforts, and initiatives.

The meeting will be streamed live on the City’s Facebook page for those who are not able to attend in person. The draft Memorandum of Understanding is available pdf here (149 KB) .

Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell and City Manager Jim Ritsema will be available for interviews in advance of this work session. Media inquiries should be directed to the City Manager’s Office at (269) 337-8047.

pdf Foundation for Excellence Memorandum of Understanding (149 KB)

September 7, 2016: A survey of Kalamazoo residents conducted in August revealed strong community support for the Foundation for Excellence concept and an overall favorable view of the direction the City is heading.

80% of respondents were supportive of the Foundation for Excellence proposal, with consistent support across all demographics. 74% of respondents felt things in Kalamazoo are heading in the right direction, with only 20% responding that the City is on the wrong track.

Washington D.C. based Lake Research Partners designed and administered the survey, which was conducted by professional interviewers over telephone. The survey reached a total of 400 citizens in the City of Kalamazoo from August 9 through August 14. Telephone numbers for this survey were drawn using file audits and the sample was stratified geographically to reflect the population of Kalamazoo. The margin of error for the survey is +/-4.9%.

City officials initiated the survey to gain a better understanding of opinions on the Foundation for Excellence proposal and what aspects are important to Kalamazoo residents.

“These results are encouraging and reflect much of what we have been hearing, but I understand that some members of our community still have concerns,” said City Manager Jim Ritsema, “We are consulting with experts and foundations with similar purposes to ensure best practices are incorporated as we work on the details. I look forward to sharing them with the community as they take shape, and am confident that these concerns will be alleviated by the final proposal.”

City Officials may bring a Memorandum of Understanding for formal review by the City Commission as early as the September 19 meeting.

July 28, 2016: Along with an update on revenue options currently in progress, City Manager Jim Ritsema introduced a new alternative at a work session held July 28 which would take a philanthropic approach to solving the City’s budget shortfalls.

The newly introduced option calls for the creation of the Foundation for Excellence, a new private-public partnership funded by area philanthropists, institutions, and anyone in our community who may wish to contribute. Once fully endowed, the foundation would provide resources to the City of Kalamazoo in perpetuity that will be used to stabilize the City budget, improve regional collaboration, provide tax relief for city residents, and most importantly fund key investments to create a vibrant, forward-looking community that benefits everyone. These investments would be driven by Imagine Kalamazoo 2025, the City’s master plan update process in which planning staff have been working closely with residents, community groups, and area organizations to create a unified vision for Kalamazoo’s future.

“This is a major opportunity for Kalamazoo,” said Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell. “This option not only offers a solution to our structural revenue problems, but also provides tax relief for city residents and still creates the opportunity for significantly more investment in our city and its people.”

Enough commitments have been secured to begin the process as early as 2017. $70.3 million has already been committed by donors to provide, over a three year period, support for the creation of the Foundation, with a goal of having it fully endowed within that three year timeframe. During this period, these commitments will stabilize the City’s budget, allow for an immediate reduction in city property tax rates by more than a third, and allow for substantially more investment in programs for youth, ending generational poverty, neighborhoods, place-making projects, streets & infrastructure, targeted economic development, and other initiatives.

The Foundation for Excellence would allow for the city property tax rate in Kalamazoo to be reduced by more than a third from 19.2705 mills to 12 mills, making investment in the city more regionally competitive. The long-term goal is to achieve a reduction to 10 mills.

“City staff have been working diligently to implement all feasible recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Revenue Panel,” said City Manager Jim Ritsema. “During our work, this exciting, innovative solution began to take shape. The initial commitments from many local philanthropists made this a real option.”

Funding for the foundation would be sought from a broad base of donors under a clear legal framework to ensure that Kalamazoo’s elected leaders will independently direct the use of funds, as they do with all City funding.

In addition to this exciting new solution, the city is continuing to explore additional revenue options to further shore up its budget, including the creation of a countywide emergency dispatch center that is expected to save the city $2 million annually if successful.

The City Commission gave City Manager Ritsema direction to move ahead and to craft the necessary legal documents to create the Foundation of Excellence. The City Commission will take formal action to officially create the Foundation for Excellence after the documents are prepared, which should occur before the end of the year.

“The Kalamazoo Promise has shown us what is possible when we, as a community, ask ourselves, ‘What can we do for our community? What can we do to address a challenge?’” said Mayor Hopewell. “This will provide an opportunity for this community to unite around a common vision to truly make Kalamazoo a city of promise.”

For additional information or to share your thoughts on this innovative new solution, please visit the City of Kalamazoo’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kalamazoocity. You can share your input for Kalamazoo's future at any time thoughout the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 project by visiting www.imaginekalamazoo.com. The work session presentation and a fact sheet on the Foundation for Excellence are available below. 

  Foundation for Excellence Presentation

  Foundation for Excellence Fact Sheet

  Special Meeting of the Kalamazoo, City Commission, July 28, 2016 

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Allied Landfill Superfund Site Clean-up and Redevelopment

The Allied Superfund Landfill site is located on the City’s south side in the midst of three neighborhoods:  Edison, Milwood and Westnedge Hill.  The landfill, created by Allied Paper Mill and its successors, contains approximately 1.5 million cubic yards of PCB-contaminated materials and has been the subject of considerable attention over the last eight years based on state and federal efforts regarding cleaning up the Site.

In 2014, The City of Kalamazoo, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) re-energized talks to resolve Kalamazoo’s Allied Superfund Site redevelopment challenge. Preliminary work on a new “redevelopment” option that addresses groundwater concerns, financial limitations, and the future of surrounding neighborhoods was unveiled to community stakeholder groups in December 2014, and a public meeting was held in February 2015 to share this proposal with the general public. 

City officials credit the activism of local residents and environmental stakeholders with keeping the EPA at the negotiating table, garnering a compromise that assures more groundwater monitoring and better land use while recognizing the financial realities.

November 2016: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected a remedy for the 89-acre Allied Paper Landfill site located in the City of Kalamazoo. The remedy outlined in the formal Record of Decision, referred to as Alternative 2D, calls for the consolidation of contaminated material, the installation of an impermeable cap, ongoing monitoring to verify the remedy’s effectiveness, and new commercial development and recreational opportunities at the site.

Contaminated soils, sediments, and residuals from the site would be excavated and consolidated into the main body of the landfill area. The existing landfill area abutting Portage Creek would also be excavated and consolidated, reducing the footprint of the contamination from approximately 49 acres to 27 acres. After the material has been consolidated it will be covered with an impermeable cap and an active gas collection system will be installed. Excavated and backfilled areas that are not used for flood or water runoff could then become available for commercial redevelopment, and the capped area could potentially be reclaimed for light recreational use, including a planned recreational trail through the site along Portage Creek. Long-term groundwater monitoring to verify the effectiveness of the remedy, land and groundwater use restrictions, and long-term operation and maintenance are also included. Consolidation and capping remedies have been used successfully at numerous sites across the country, including three other landfills at this site in Kalamazoo. Containment remedies employ proven technologies that are protective over the long term.

The EPA considered several other remedies including the total removal of contaminated material, complete encapsulation of the contaminated material, no action, and several variations of consolidation and capping. In determining a remedy the EPA evaluates each alternative against nine criteria, noting how each compares to the other alternatives under consideration. Among the criteria are the overall protection of human health and the environment; the long-term effectiveness and permanence; the reduction of toxicity, mobility, or volume of contaminants; the short-term effectiveness; impermeability; and cost. Alternative 2D offered the best balance of these criteria. Total removal of the contaminated material would cost an estimated $238 million, without an identified funding source.  That remedy is over three times the cost of Alternative 2D, while offering only slightly greater protection.

The EPA developed Alternative 2D after extensive discussion with the City of Kalamazoo and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the three having met in person more than 40 times since 2014. This option was judged to be more protective than the consolidation and capping options originally included in the 2013 Feasibility Study due to the stewardship of the land associated with redevelopment. The EPA also considered all public comments that were received during the process, and responses to each comment are included in the Record of Decision document.

Kalamazoo River Watershed Council and Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition have noted Alternative 2D is a reasonable compromise, and the Natural Resource Trustee Council (comprised of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and others) is supportive of the option. Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell offered his support of the plan to the EPA in a 2015 letter.

Now that a decision has been made, the EPA will begin designing the selected remedy. Additional sampling will be conducted to determine the fine details of the contaminated material and the plans to actually build the remedy will be completed. This process is expected to take 18 to 24 months. After the plans have been finalized, implementation of the remedy is expected to take approximately two years to complete. At this point ongoing monitoring and maintenance would begin and the site could potentially be available for reuse.

The complete Record of Decision is available online here. You can view all site-related documents at the EPA's webiste here.

September 2015: the EPA officially released its proposal to clean up the Allied Paper site and a 60-day comment period will begin on September 30 to hear public comments on the plan. The EPA will hold a public meeting on Thursday, November 19 at 6:00 p.m. at Washington Writers' Academy (1919 Portage St), at which the details of the plan will be presented and oral comments will be accepted and recorded by a court reporter. EPA representatives will also be available to answer questions at two community roundtable events: Thursday, October 15 at 6:00 p.m. at the Washington Writers' Academy and Thursday, October 22 at 6:00 p.m. at 6:00 p.m. at the Hispanic American Council, St. Joseph Parish Gymnasium (930 Lake St). A translator will be available for Spanish-speaking members of the community.

EPA's Proposed Plan

Public Comment Form (Web)

EPA's Allied Paper Landfill/Bryant Mill Pond Area Website

pdf EPA Allied Paper FAQs (1.89 MB)

pdf Allied Paper Fact Sheet (English) (477 KB)

pdf Allied Paper Fact Sheet (Spanish) (754 KB)

pdf Allied Paper Postcard  (529 KB)

June 24, 2015: the new redevelopment option was added to the EPA's feasibility study. This option consolidates and caps the contaminated material beneath an impermeable engineered barrier, and reclaims 30 acres for commercial, industrial or recreational use, 27 acres as open space or for recreation, and 25 acres of greenway along portage creek. The report also concludes that PCBs are not migrating off-site from the Allied Landfill. The EPA expects to issue a cleanup proposal this summer which will be followed by a public comment period. After reviewing comments, a remedy will be chosen (expected late 2015 or early 2016). You can view the EPA presentation slides here.

April 30, 2015: the EPA held a public meeting to present their version of the compromise plan proposed by the City of Kalamazoo in 2014 (detailed below). The EPA's version was largely unchanged, save for some layout adjustments. Michael Berkoff, the EPA remedial project manager for the site, indicated that the EPA could propose a remedy for the site as early as this summer. A public comment period will follow, after which the EPA will issue their record of decision. 

Deputy City Manager Jeff Chamberlain, Paul Bucholtz of the Department of Environmental Quality, and Michael Berkoff of the EPA discuss the proposed option for the Allied Landfill Site:


New Option for Allied Landfill from Public Media Network GPSU on Vimeo.

The fundamental framework for the proposed redevelopment would:

*Reduce the 42 existing acres of PCB-contaminated soil to 23 acres by consolidating existing materials into a larger hill on part of the site and safely capping it.  Conversely, the option to dig out and remove all PCB soil would result in creation of an expansive unbuildable wetland at the Site as well as thousands of semi-truck trips through the adjoining neighborhoods.

*Reclaim 15-20 acres of the site for potential redevelopment that would improve the neighborhoods, create employment opportunities, and add to the tax roll.

*Create a fund for ongoing environmental monitoring to assure future groundwater quality.  Recent testing has shown no indication that the PCBs originating from carbonless paper production have migrated away from the Site.

*Create new recreational space adjacent to neighborhoods with an opportunity for community input on how it’s developed.  Fencing currently surrounding the area could be eliminated and a trail linking the cities of Kalamazoo and Portage could traverse the land, improving connectivity.

*Establish a more economically feasible solution.  Officials peg the rough cost estimate for the redevelopment option at $57-$67 million, compared to $120-$360 million estimated for total removal.  Assets from a bankruptcy settlement with the former industrial owner now stand at close to $50 million.  City officials said the redevelopment option would still require some local fundraising and there are no federal funding earmarks available to supplement either option.

*Interact realistically with EPA’s priority for the Allied Superfund site.  According to City officials, on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10s are considered the most serious environmental contamination sites, EPA assesses Allied as a 1 (lowest priority) among the hundreds it oversees nationwide.


icon Public input process comments summary

icon Public input process comments

icon Imagine Kalamazoo Idea Report 


EPA Kalamazoo River Superfund Project Website

Allied Paper Corporation & PCB Pollution (Wikipedia)

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Kalamazoo Metro Transit 'Track My Bus' App

Kalamazoo Metro Transit has created an app to assist with locating buses and finding arrival times. The app is free for iOS and Android devices and allows you to track buses in real time, check arrival times for your bus stop, and view routes.

iTunes App Store     Google Play Store

Legacy Cost Task Force

The City Commission has authorized the City Manager to create a Legacy Cost Task Force to research, study, and explore options that account for the City’s long-term financial liability for providing health care to its retirees.

The term “legacy costs” means the current and projected future costs of providing health insurance to City of Kalamazoo retirees. This does not include any pension benefit, which is pre-funded by the City during an employee’s employment.

The Task Force will study the issue and recommend workable options for the City Commission to consider before the end of the summer of 2014. The Task Force is made up of: 3 City Commissioners, 4 City administrators, 5 retired City employees, 3 current City employees, 2 representatives from the business community, 1 higher education representative, and 3 city residents at-large.

Final Report

The work of the Legacy Cost Task Force was completed as of August 11, 2014. To read the final recommendations presented to the City Commission on August 18, 2014, please click the link below.

Meeting #12

This meeting will be held Monday, August 11 at 4:30 pm in the main conference room at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #11

This meeting will be held Monday, July 28 at 4:30 pm in the main conference room at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #10

Monday, July 14 at 4:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #9

Monday, June 23 at 4:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #8

Monday, June 9 at 4:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #7

Tuesday, May 27 at 4:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #6

Monday, May 12 at 4:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #5

Monday, April 28 at 4:30 pm in the Community Room of the Parks and Recreation offices at Mayors' Riverfront Park, 251 Mills Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #4

Monday, April 14 at 4:30 pm in the Community Room of the Parks and Recreation offices at Mayors' Riverfront Park, 251 Mills Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #3

Monday, March 24 at 4:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall at Mt. Zion baptist Church, 120 Roberson Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #2

Monday, February 24 at 4:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 120 Roberson Street, Kalamazoo, MI

Meeting #1

Wednesday, February 19 at 4:30 pm at Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Fellowship Hall, located at 120 Roberson St, Kalamazoo.

Read City Manager Ritsema’s memo creating the Task Force click here

link to document in docman

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
2017 Community-Wide Day of Service

Monday, January 16, 2017


The Transformative Power of a Unified Dream

The City of Kalamazoo, Gryphon Place and the Western Michigan University Office of Diversity & Inclusion alongside Kalamazoo College and Northside Ministerial Alliance are sponsoring a community-wide day of service on Monday, January 16, 2016 in honor of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Social service organizations around Kalamazoo County provide opportunities for community volunteers to take a day-on rather than a day-off. Participants will join thousands of volunteers across the county as we celebrate the life and work of the slain leader by participating in various outreach activities throughout the county. Volunteers are the backbone of the Community-Wide Day of Service. We will be recruiting individuals and groups to serve social service organizations throughout Kalamazoo County. Volunteer registration is being coordinated through Volunteer Kalamazoo. They can be contacted at (269) 382-8350 or to submit a project site go to

The 2017 MLK Celebration theme, The Transformative Power of a Unified Dream, was formed based on the principle that we are stronger as a community in advancing social justice and addressing historical inequality in the non-violent and empathetic manner promoted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This theme also speaks to the immediacy of issues regarding equity that affect community members in Kalamazoo and its surrounding area. Art, education, faith and health are highlighted within the theme. Volunteer registration is being coordinated through Gryphon Place. They can be contacted at (269) 382-8350 or to submit a project site go to www.gryphon.org/events.

Annual Dr. Lewis Walker Social Justice Youth Award

The Dr. Lewis Walker Social Justice Youth Award will be given to student(s) between the ages of 12-19 from the Kalamazoo community in honor of Dr. Lewis Walker, a trailblazer for the progression of racial equity in Kalamazoo. The winner(s) will have demonstrated leadership achievements in the area of racial and social justice through community service activities and volunteerism. Along with the community service award, the winner(s) will receive a $200.00 monetary award. Nominations will only be accepted from adults who work with young people in various capacities.

Nominations are being accepted through Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at 8:00 a.m. You can nominate someone online here, or if you would prefer to mail or fax your nomination, nomination forms are available pdf here (pdf) (416 KB) and document here (doc) (153 KB) , or by visiting the City Manager's Office at City Hall. 

Community Events:
Monday, January 16
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2017
City of Kalamazoo Communitywide Day of Service
8 a.m., City Hall, 241 W. South St.
Monday, January 16
March to MLK Park
3:30 p.m. at the flagpole at Kanley Chapel, WMU; to Kalamazoo College Red Square, corner of Thompson and Academy streets, at 4 p.m.; to MLK Park, corner of Rose Street and West Michigan Avenue, at 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday,  January 17
Presentation to Dr. Lewis Walker Youth Social Justice Award Winners
7:00 p.m. at City Hall during the scheduled City Commission Meeting.

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Welcome to the City of Kalamazoo webpage dedicated to web streaming and other live City of Kalamazoo government events.  


To watch the live web stream of the candidates community presentations starting around ~5:00pm EST today, please click on the link below:

Live Stream Link

City of Kalamazoo Website Advertising Policy

The following is the policy of the City of Kalamazoo regarding advertising of the City’s website. Advertisements will be limited to event-related information within the City.

The purpose of the City of Kalamazoo’s website is to advance the public’s health, safety and welfare by providing information for and interacting with the citizens, businesses and visitors of Kalamazoo. This includes promoting tourism and economic development within the City and region.

The City of Kalamazoo website will not accept or maintain any advertisement/banner that falls within one or more of the following categories:

Outside City Limits. The advertisement focuses on an event outside of the Kalamazoo City limits.

Business Directory. Business must be in good financial standing and pre-registered as a business partner with KalamazooCity.org.

Products or Goods. The advertisement promotes a specific product or service rather then a specific event occurring during a specified time and date.

Demeaning or disparaging. The advertisement demeans or disparages an individual or group of individuals because of their race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender identity, age, disability, ethnicity, sex, citizenship, height, weight, marital or parental status, veteran status or sexual orientation.

Profanity. The advertisement contains profane language, i.e., language personally reviling epithets naturally tending to provoke violent resentment or language that under contemporary community standards is grossly offensive.

Violence. The advertisement contains an image or description of violence, including, but not limited to (1) the depiction of human or animal bodies or body parts, or fetuses, in states of mutilation, dismemberment, decomposition or disfigurement, or (2) the depiction of weapons or other implements or devices used in the advertisement in an act of violence or harm on a person or animal.

Unlawful goods, services or activities. The advertisement promotes or encourages, or appears to promote or encourage, the use or possession of unlawful goods or services or unlawful activities.        

Obscenity or nudity. The advertisement contains obscene material or depicts nudity or sexual acts or promotes the sale of pornography, adult telephone or Internet services, escort services, nude dance clubs, sensual massage or any other form of adult-oriented entertainment.

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city hallGovernment

The City of Kalamazoo was incorporated as a commission-manager form of government in 1918, which grants the Commission as the legislative and governing body of the City.

The City Commission consists of the Mayor and six commissioners who are elected at-large on a non-partisan basis. The mayor is elected to serve a two-year term at each election, and commissioners serve staggered four-year terms. 

The City Manager is appointed by the City Commission and functions as the Chief Administrative Officer for the City. S/he is responsible for all administrative appointments with the exception of the City AssessorCity AttorneyCity Clerk and Internal Auditor

Prior to five voter-approved amendments to the City Charter in 2014, all commission candidates were elected every two years. The candidate receiving the most votes served as mayor, and candidate with the second most votes served as vice mayor. In 2015, the office of mayor will be elected separately, but all six commissioners will be elected. The top three commission candidates will serve four-year terms, and the remaining three will serve two-year terms. Thereafter, three commissioners will be chosen in each election to serve staggered four-year terms. 

Welcome to the City of Kalamazoo and our Business section.



Here we provide information for those already running a business and those who would like to start a business in our fine city. Here you will find information about:

Whatever tools you may need we offer you information to start and grow your business here.

Welcome to the city of Kalamazoo!  

We have provided links to items that we believe would be most helpful for visitors to our fine city.  

kidsbubblesWe offer information under the main Visitors menu to areas of interest including: arts and culture, dining, nightlife, shopping, the farmers market, our beautiful parks for recreation activities and special events.  If you are looking up your past in our fair city, the cemeteries and genealogy may offer direction to find family or should you be interested in the specific businesses or activities taking place visit discoverkalamazoo.com or downtownkalamazoo.org.  Our Metro Transit system is a full service system servicing the Kalamazoo areas or cool off after a day of activities in our Kik pool!

Whatever choices you make we hope you enjoy your visit to Kalamazoo and return.

Kalamazoo Residents

Kalamazoo is home to 74,352 residents (2011). Residents include an interesting mix of college students, families (some with children that may take advantage of the Kalamazoo Promise), artists, and business owners and employees.

We have four higher education learning institutions which offer a combined student enrollment of over 50,000 students.  Kalamazoo hosts numerous events and activities to keep life entertaining for all those students (and students of life). We have much to offer in the way of our parks, dining, entertainment, shopping, employment, and neighborhoods.

Bronson is a large employer comprising of over 7,000 employees. Kalamazoo is also home to many smaller companies that add to the uniqueness and diversity of the business community.  Many of these employees and employers choose to call Kalamazoo their home.

For more detailed information about Kalamazoo, check out our community profile.


Contact Us

City staff is committed to responding to your inquiry. If you would like to be contacted by phone or mail, please indicate as such in your email inquiry. If you are not sure which department to select for your message, choose the "City Manager" option.

City of Kalamazoo
241 West South Street
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007

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DepartmentDept ManagerDescriptionPhone/Fax
Area (269)
Assessor Aaron Powers Property values, property information 337-8011
City Attorney Clyde J. Robinson City court cases, FOIA coordination 337-8185
City Commission Mayor Bobby Hopewell City Commission 337-8047
City Manager James Ritsema City Administration 337-8047
City Clerk Scott Borling Elections, records, licenses, special events, City Commission support 337-8792
Community Planning & Development Laura Lam Housing, building permits, code inspections, rental property registration, planning, anti-blight team, neighborhood projects

337-8429 fax

Economic Development Jerome Kisscorni Business assistance, brownfield redevelopment 337-8082
Finance Thomas C. Skrobola Accounting, Payroll and Pension 337-8457
Human Resources Karianne Thomas, Interim Director Employment, employee relations 337-8052
Information Technology vacant Computer hardware & software for City employees; City website 337-8835
Internal Auditor Ann Videtich Internal audits, process reviews 337-8455
Parks & Recreation Sean Fletcher Parks & recreation 337-8191
Public Safety Jeff Hadley Police, fire department 337-8120
Public Services James Baker Water, sewer, streets 337-8660
337-8533 Fax
Purchasing Melissa Fuller Purchasing, project bids 337-8020
Public Transportation Sean McBride Metro 337-8222
Treasurer Kelli Steinman Taxes 337-8036