Anticipation building for possible Imagine Edwardsburg project

EDWARDSBURG/CASSOPOLIS — At the Dec. 20 County Commissioner meeting, the commissioner board approved a letter of recommendation to Wayne Beyea of Michigan State University’s School of Planning Design and Construction. The letter recommended Edwardsburg to be a participant of the Sustainable built Environment Initiative, the same program Cassopolis went through to for the Imagine Cass project.

“We support Edwardsburg Chamber of Commerce, the Village of Edwardsburg and Ontwa Township in applying for the (SBEI) as an important step in their efforts to develop plans to improve a sense of place and pride in their community,” the letter from the commissioner board read.

Roseann Marchetti is the commissioner representing the district surrounding Edwardsburg who brought the letter to the board for approval. She saw the benefit of the Imagine Cass project not only in the designs and models it presented for potential community projects, but also in the support it galvanized in Cassopolis.

“The success of the SBEI project in Cassopolis has spurred other Cass County municipalities to become aware of the interest residents have in improving their communities. Many members of the community are envisioning how a vibrant and thriving downtown/uptown could be an option for recreation, business and residential opportunities,” the letter went on to say.

SBEI is a program through MSU’s School of Planning Design and Construction that gives residents of a community an opportunity to work with MSU students in the program to identify strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in order to brainstorm potential development projects. The students then take those ideas and create digital and print models of what the projects could actually look like within the community. In Cassopolis, residents were invited to “Imagine Cass.”

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

In late November, the possibility of an Edwardsburg program similar to that of Cassopolis’ was just an idea. The Edwardsburg Chamber of Commerce, the Village, and the township have since taken on the first steps of gathering support to apply for the program, which will cost $7,500. Part of the application process, however, is gathering letters of recommendation for the community applying.

“The Edwardsburg Chamber, the Village of Edwardsburg and Ontwa Township have an opportunity to work with the SBEI to seek a vision for not only the present time, but for many years to come,” the letter continued. “We, the Cass County Board of Commissioners, are wholeheartedly in support of the project and look forward to being a part of the process.”

The approval of the county was another small step forward for Edwardsburg. There is still no telling where the application or the potential project could lead, but what started as Imagine Cassopolis is gradually turning into imagining Edwardsburg, and reimagining Cass County.

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