City of Kalamazoo Seeks Resident Input on Community, Services and Policies

What do you think about community livability, public services, local policies, and quality of life in the City of Kalamazoo? Please let us know by completing the following survey:

www.n-r-c.com/survey/kalamazoomi.htm

The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. Results will be used to provide a baseline of how the city government is serving residents and to make comparisons with peer cities. If you have previously received this survey in the mail, please complete the mailed copy and do not complete this online version.

Thank you for helping create a better Kalamazoo!

Rotary Club of Kalamazoo Pledges $50,000 Gift to Bronson Park Campaign

The coalition of supporters of the Bronson Park 21st Century Campaign continues to grow with the recent announcement of a multi-year $50,000 gift from the Rotary Club of Kalamazoo. The Club has pledged their gift in equal installments over four years to fund the design and construction of a shade structure for performances in Bronson Park.

In 1999 the Rotary Club funded the $750,000 stage bearing its name, and maintains an endowment for its upkeep and maintenance. The temporary shade structure is meant to enhance the experience of park users during performances on or near the Rotary Stage. It will be disassembled and stored when performances are not taking place.

“Supporting the Bronson Park campaign fits perfectly with the Kalamazoo Rotary’s 101-year history of community-driven, ‘service above self’ focus on the economic and social vitality of downtown Kalamazoo,” said Kalamazoo Rotary President Bryan Zocher. “Our club members are proud to partner with the City and Kalamazoo County to build, maintain and enhance the Bronson Park Rotary stage for the enjoyment and artistic appreciation of citizens, neighbors and tourists.”

The Rotary Club of Kalamazoo is inviting the public to attend their April 10 meeting. Sean Fletcher, Director of Parks & Recreation for the City of Kalamazoo and David S. Brose, Anthropologist and member of the Campaign Leadership Team will present:  “Bronson Park: Little Known History, Fountain Controversy and Technology Sneak Peek”.  The April 10 meeting is at the downtown Kalamazoo Cityscape Events Center from Noon-1:30pm. Cost is $14 for lunch.

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.

Kalamazoo Bicycle Club Reminds Motorists to “Give Them 5 to Stay Alive”

The Kalamazoo City Commission approved a Five Foot Passing Ordinance in the fall of 2016, which requires motorists to pass bicyclists with at least five feet of space. This commitment by the Kalamazoo City Commission to ensure the safety of all road users was applauded by Kalamazoo Bicycle Club, who recently recognized the Commission with their 2017 Friend Bicycling Award. Bicyclists and motorists are reminded that road users must follow all the same traffic laws.

Here are some important laws for all road users to remember:

  • Bicycles must be ridden on the right side of the road, while staying as “far to the right as practicable” (bicyclists can legally ride two abreast, but not if impeding traffic.) This makes cyclists predictable, just like motor vehicles. This is the law in all 50 states. Ride your bike like you drive your car.
  • Bicyclists must obey all traffic signals and signs, just as drivers.
  • Bicyclists must turn left from the left turn lane.
  • Bicyclists must use hand signals when turning.
  • Lights are required for riding at night and recommended at all times

The following safety measures are also strongly recommended for bicyclists:

  • Wear a helmet. This reduces risk of serious injury or death by 80%!
  • Use a rearview mirror on your helmet, eyeglasses, or bike.  Always be aware of what is approaching from behind.
  • Wear bright clothing so you will be more visible.
  • Use daytime-bright front and rear bicycle lights.
  • Stay alert, avoid road hazards, like potholes, cracks, debris, drain grates, and other obstacles.  Bicyclists can take a full lane if necessary to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Ride out far enough from parked vehicles to avoid opening doors.
  • Check your bike before every ride to make sure it operates properly.

Taking a moment to review laws and safety measures will help ensure that all road users can get from point A to point B safely, and remember to “give them five to stay alive!”

Lifting of the Southern Avenue Boil Water Advisory

As of Wednesday, March 1, 2017, at 1:30 p.m., the precautionary boil water advisory issued February 27, 2017 in association with a scheduled infrastructure repair 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 is as follows:

Southern Avenue – All of Southern Avenue from Emerald Drive to the west end of Southern Avenue.

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

March 4 City Commission Retreat Cancelled

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.

Bicyclist Feedback Needed for Bicycle Friendly Community Certification

In 2016, the City of Kalamazoo applied to become a Bicycle Friendly Community- a community that welcomes bicyclists by providing safe accommodations for bicycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. Making bicycling safe and convenient are keys to improving public health, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and improving quality of life.

The League of American Bicyclist’s Bicycle Friendly Community program provides a roadmap to improve conditions for bicycling and the guidance to make your distinct vision for a better, bikeable community a reality. As part of the certification process, several assessments must be completed, including this brief survey about bicycling in Kalamazoo. Your opinion will help our community understand current bicycling conditions and potential areas for improvement.

Please take a moment to share your experience and feeback below. The survey will be open through March 10 at midnight (PST).

Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BFCKalamazooMI

Southern Ave Water Repair, Boil Water Advisory

On Monday, February 27, 2017, the City of Kalamazoo Department of Public Services has scheduled water infrastructure repair near 2131 Southern Avenue, City of Kalamazoo.  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 is as follows:

Southern Avenue – Southern Avenue from Emerald Drive west to the end of Southern Avenue.

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 27 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.

 

Contacts:        

City of Kalamazoo Department of Public Services
269-337-8146

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

Lifting of Dearborn Ave Boil Water Advisory

As of Friday, February 24, 2017, at 1:05 p.m., the precautionary boil water advisory issued February 22, 2017 in association with a scheduled infrastructure repair 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 is as follows:

Dearborn Avenue – Dearborn Avenue between Wallace to the west and Lum Avenue to the east, including certain street intersection areas between Wallace and Lum.

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

Contact:

City of Kalamazoo Department of Public Services
269-337-8146

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

Gov Snyder Says More Time and Work Needed to Resolve Questions on School Closures or Restructuring

From the Governor’s Office of Urban Initiatives:

School Reform Office and MI Department of Education collaborating with local districts on best ideas for schools and the students they serve

LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced that more time and work are needed to determine the best course of action for the 38 schools on the state’s potential closure list.

“The entire team at the School Reform Office has worked diligently to analyze data, visit schools and review potential options, but we need to do more before any final decisions can be made,” Snyder said. “Any action we take will have long-lasting consequences and we need to take the time to get this right. That’s why I want our SRO team to work closely with State Superintendent Brian Whiston and the Michigan Department of Education to reach out and coordinate all the latest information with local superintendents and districts.”

Each year, schools in the bottom 5 percent of all public schools in Michigan are identified as Priority Schools and monitored for turnaround in subsequent years. State law requires that schools identified in the bottom 5 percent of all schools write plans and receive support services. Schools are eligible to leave Priority School status if they meet three exit criteria after four years of implementing redesign plans. Earlier this year, 79 schools exited the priority list.

“Our vision at the SRO is for every kid in Michigan to have access to a globally competitive education,” said State School Reform Officer Natasha Baker. “All kids deserve access to a quality school that will prepare them for a good life after high school. That’s why our team remains dedicated to taking action when schools are not providing students with a quality education; in some instances this has been the case for over a decade.”

Gov. Snyder said that while closure may not be the right option for serving students and their families due to the hardship it would create, there still must be some action taken to fix a failing school. That’s why he is having Baker’s and Whiston’s teams collaborate on possible solutions.

“I appreciate the good working relationship that has developed between the Michigan Department of Education and the School Reform Office, and now we can build upon that to help students in struggling schools,” Whiston said. “Closing a school is a tough decision and sometimes there just are no other options that make sense, but we need to work closely with a local district and the community they serve to reach our conclusions together.”

Gov. Snyder has asked the SRO and the MDE to have all reviews and decisions by May, and that any decisions available before then should be announced as soon as they are ready.

“I understand the anxiety that parents have when there is a discussion about a school being closed and that everyone wants answers right away. But if we are going to do this right, we are going to have to take the time to do the right thing,” Snyder said. “We have heard from communities and their elected officials about the desire to have more input into this process and we will consider feedback from local communities as we move forward. The focus in all of this needs to be on helping and teaching the kids involved, so even if a school is not closed, there will be some changes made.

“We also know that legislators want to review and possibly replace the law that the SRO is governed by and I look forward to working on that with them. We must ensure all students have a pathway to Michigan’s future success. That path starts at home and continues straight through the school doors.”