Proposal in the works for project for new attractions and amenities

EDWARDSBURG — Efforts are in the works to adopt a program in Edwardsburg, one similar to that of Imagine Cass, a program through which members of the Cassopolis community worked with MSU students to draw up new attractions and amenities. Cass County Commissioner Roseann Marchetti worked closely with the Imagine Cass project, and believes a similar project would be beneficial for her hometown of Edwardsburg.

Cassopolis came by the Imagine Cass project in a roundabout way. According to Marchetti, Wendy Dyes, who worked for the MSU extension office in Cassopolis, was the first to bring up the MSU program (Sustainable Built Environment Initiative) that pairs students with communities to make physical planning, design, and land use suggestions for new attractions and amenities. The program runs through MSU’s School of Planning, Design, and Construction.

The goals of SBEI are to, “1), work with communities to develop sustainable planning and design ideas for local issues and opportunities, 2) build consensus and generate ideas to address challenging sustainability concerns, 3) act as a bridge between communities and consulting planning and design professionals, and 4) provide in-community student learning, and serve as a creative and scholarly outreach and engagement work endeavor involving campus faculty and field Extension educators.”

Cassopolis went through three meetings, in which community members provided insight and input into community needs, conducted SWOT analyses, brainstormed ideas, and worked with MSU students to imagine a new face and place for the village. The end product was a thorough packet of refined ideas, designs, layouts, visionary models, and potential services and resources to help the ideas come to fruition.

“We want to do the same for Edwardsburg,” Marchetti said.

Imagine Edwardsburg is still just an idea. While Marchetti and others see the potential SBEI has for the village of Edwardsburg, there are several parties that will have to buy in to the proposal as well. Marchetti has presented the idea to the Edwardsburg Village Council, and plans to do the same with Ontwa Township, as well as the local chamber and other organizations that could galvanize support.

The processes of applying for SBEI, and finding donors to contribute to the initial cost of the program, let alone to pay for ideas the program puts forth, also await Edwardsburg if such a project is undertaken. Gathering support, donations and letters of recommendation, and applying for SBEI have not discouraged Marchetti, however.

“I want to make my community better. We’ll have the same spirit here in Edwardsburg,” Marchetti said.

Edwardsburg has immense potential, according to Marchetti. The village continues to grow, despite how other communities of similar size in Michigan continue struggling.

“Edwardsburg is a growing community. Some communities are stagnant and not growing, but we are growing,” she said.

For more information and updates, readers can reach Commissioner Roseann Marchetti by calling (269) 414-9592, or by emailing roseannm@cassco.org.

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