Category Archives: Kalamazoo Featured News

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.

The draft Kalamazoo Climate Action Plan is being made available for public review and feedback. Please send all comments and questions to kikr@kalamazoocity.org.

 

Spring Hydrant Flushing Program begins April 16

The Spring Hydrant Flushing Program will begin on Sunday, April 16,. Most flushing will take place at night between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. with some additional day flushing between 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Public Services Department personnel will flush the hydrants and mains to remove accumulated sediments. While flushing doesn’t affect the safety of the water supply, tap water may appear cloudy or discolored immediately after flushing. The City is advising residents to run their cold water in their bathtub or utility sink until it runs clear again, and is discouraging them from using their washing machines the day of flushing and for 24 hours after, since clothing could become discolored.

Periodic flushing is necessary to get rid of deposits that form inside the water mains. Over time, sediment builds up on the inside of water distribution pipes, narrowing the path that water can flow through to individual homes and businesses. Flushing stirs up water in the mains and forces water and sediments out. By widening the path that water can flow through the mains, the flushing program will improve water flow, helping the City to better meet the needs of Public Safety fire personnel. Another goal of the flushing program is to make sure that all water supply systems work, including pumps, storage tanks, mains, valves, and hydrants.

If you have scheduled construction or maintenance projects during this time, please contact Robert McClenney at 337-8729 so that necessary precautions can be taken to avoid conflicts or problems.

For a map of the flushing area and dates please check the pdf 2017 Spring/Summer View from the Curb (5.74 MB) .

Keep Our City Clean! Enforcement of City Trash Ordinance to begin on April 23

With the arrival of spring, often times we find a season’s worth of litter underneath the melted snow. Property owners in the City are reminded of their responsibilities to keep properties trash free throughout the year. Chapter 15A of the City of Kalamazoo Code of Ordinances (the Trash Ordinance) states, ““…All garbage must be stored in a watertight container that is constructed of metal, plastic or other durable material impervious to rodents, has a tight-fitting lid or cover, and is capable of being serviced without creating unsanitary conditions…”

A grace period for violations of the Trash Ordinance is in effect through Saturday, April 22.

Starting Sunday, April 23, properties that are in violation of the ordinance will be issued a written citation allowing 10 days to clean up the property and a $77 fine. If the property is not cleaned up within 10 days, a crew will be dispatched to clean up the property on behalf of the property owner, who will then be billed for the recovery of enforcement costs.

City residents are encouraged to take a proactive approach and help keep our city clean and inviting for everyone who lives, works, learns, or plays in Kalamazoo.

Contact:
Community Planning & Development Office
(269) 337-8026

Imagine Kalamazoo “Design It!” Phase to Conclude with Two-day Workshop

“Design It!”, the third phase of the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 community visioning and Master Plan update process will conclude with a two-day workshop to “Imagine Downtown” on Tuesday, April 11 and Wednesday, April 12. Both meetings will be open house format and will be held from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Rose Street Market, located at 303 N Rose Street.

The first night will focus on obtaining ideas and input for the future of downtown. Urban designers, city staff, and downtown organizations will be on hand to answer questions, take input, and work through transformative project design solutions for out downtown. Tables will be set up asking residents how they live, work or play downtown, and downtown districts will be examined for possible projects or improvements such as public infrastructure improvements, key development sites and underdeveloped sites.

On April 12, attendees can review the information and ideas that were collected (including concepts and drawings from the April 11 open house) and vote for their preferences. At 6:00 p.m. Mayor Bobby Hopewell will speak and give a presentation on the Imagine Kalamazoo process.

These two events will mark the end of the last major public outreach phase of Imagine Kalamazoo 2025, which will then enter the “Draft It!” phase. City staff will begin creating a draft Master Plan based on all of the input that has been received throughout the process. The draft plan will be made available for public comment and review before it is finalized and presented to the City Commission for approval later this year.  Once approved, the Master Plan will guide City policies and actions to achieve the goals established in the plan.

Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 is a community effort to update the City of Kalamazoo’s Strategic Vision and Master Plan that was initiated in the spring of 2016. The effort has been assisted by a group of dedicated volunteers representing each neighborhood and a wide range of interests. Imagine Kalamazoo has hosted meetings throughout the City, attended events, and conducted surveys in a comprehensive effort to reach as many community members as possible. The process has resulted in nearly 3,200 engagements thus far.

You can follow the progress of the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 Strategic Vision and Master Plan Update process and find out ways to get involved at www.imaginekalamazoo.com.

City of Kalamazoo to Expand Summer Youth Programming in 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. “

About Supervised Playground

In 2016, the Supervised Playground program was offered at LaCrone Park. Approximately 40 youth ages 5 – 12 participated in activities each day at the park under the supervision of Parks & Recreation staff. The site was also a Michigan Department of Education “Meet Up and Eat Up” site, so participants were provided with breakfast and lunch. Beginning in 2017, the program will be expanded to four sites, each staffed by a site supervisor and program staff, creating 24 seasonal jobs. The program will return to LaCrone Park this year with the other three sites still being finalized. The program will begin on June 19. Advance registration is not necessary.

About All Things Possible

The All Things Possible program was designed to address the concern that as students progress from elementary to middle school and beyond, they become less engaged in school, resulting in increased absences, higher truancy and lower academic performance. The program takes an intergenerational approach, working with youth and their parents to identify their passions and interests, rediscover the joy of learning and plan for their futures together. The program emphasizes active learning and experiential-based activities such as field lessons, hands on math, science and literacy activities, a health, cooking, and nutrition class, empowerment groups, daily reflection, and physical fitness & outdoor learning.

The 2016 pilot was offered at Interfaith Homes and reached 52 youth and 15 parents. Program evaluation indicated that youth significantly increased social emotional learning skills, health and wellness knowledge and career/financial literacy. In 2017, Kalamazoo Parks & Recreation intend to expand the program to two sites and implement changes based on feedback from the pilot.

The All Things Possible program was created in partnership with the Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo Initiative and various community partners including the Kalamazoo Youth Development Network (KYD Network), Western Michigan University’s Lewis Walker Institute, the Kalamazoo Nature Center, PeaceJam, Van Buren Intermediate School District’s Vocational Education Center, and the City of Kalamazoo.

About Summer Youth Employment Program/MyCITY

Kalamazoo Parks & Recreation has been partnering with Youth Opportunities Unlimited since 2005 to offer the Summer Youth Employment program. The six-week program has historically provided summer employment and career exploration to 110 youth, often with applicants turned away due to funding constraints. With additional funding from the Foundation For Excellence this program will expand to serve approximately 350. The program will continue to connect youth with community job sites that provide on-the-job training, create neighborhood crews that focus on beautification projects in the City, and host work readiness workshops to improve skills such as resume development, conflict resolution, customer service, and safety training. Participants will also continue to be offered first hand talent tours with southwest Michigan employers in various industries, training institution tours to connect career pathways to training programs, and entrepreneurship speaker panels to hear stories of building and maintaining businesses.

New in 2017 will be an age-based tiered placement system to focus on certain skills. Younger participants will focus more on general soft skills with more specific training as they get older. Youth that are about to enter the workforce will focus on more specific training opportunities. The program will also have an increased focus on financial literacy and entrepreneurship in 2017, and an intergenerational career fair will be hosted as part of the program.

With these and additional elements beyond employment, the name of the program will be changed to better reflect its focus. Beginning in 2017, the name of the Summer Youth Employment Program will change to MyCITY (Career Introduction and Training for Youth). Both names will be used while the community is acclimated to the change.

Registration for the MyCITY/Summer Youth Employment program will be open from April 16 -23. Interested youth can apply at http://www.kresa.org/you.

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!

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!”

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.