Edwardsburg Vision Project hosts final session

EDWARDSBURG — Monday evening, visitors to Our Lady of the Lake’s social hall saw a new vision for the village of Edwardsburg’s future — one that includes more sidewalks, safer crosswalks and more attractive streetscapes.

Edwardsburg hosted its third and final session for its visioning project with Michigan State University’s Sustainable Built Environment Initiative team. The meeting allowed representatives from MSU to present final design recommendations to improve the village’s quality of life and set it up for a future of growth.

Two previous visioning meetings had been hosted in Edwardsburg, both of which gathered community input about what residents wanted to see in the area. MSU’s SBEI team has also worked with more than 100 Michigan municipalities — including the village of Cassopolis in 2018 — to come up with similar visioning projects.

In Edwardsburg, the team’s suggestions focused on general placemaking, streetscapes, visual quality and connectivity, said Wayne Beyea, a senior specialist with MSU. Specific recommendations included adding a boardwalk, redesigning the vacant Lunker’s building, making Edwardsburg more walkable by adding sidewalks and greenspaces on major roads, and making the downtown more visually pleasing through landscaping and building design.

“We’ve taken your ideas and focused on what is important to you,” Beyea said. “We’ve had great participation in Cass County.”

Local contact for the Edwardsburg Vision Project, Cass County Commissioner Roseann Marchetti, said she was pleased both with the community participation of the Edwardsburg Vision Project and the recommendations from MSU. She said she was particularly excited about the recommended streetscapes.

Marchetti helped to spearhead the effort of bringing MSU’s team to the Edwardsburg Vision Project after seeing how they worked in Cassopolis. She said she felt the project was necessary to bring change to Edwardsburg.

“This has been great,” she said of the project. “We’ve had a lot of people step up because of this and want to do things here.”

Also happy with the vision project was Roy Smothermon, the director of the Edwardsburg Chamber of Commerce.

“The whole process has been great because it has involved the community,” he said. “If we can do some of the things they suggested, it will make us more attractive, and maybe we can do some things in the community to add new venues downtown and beautification along the highways. It will help us, I believe, because it will give people a destination when they come through.”

Now, with MSU’s recommendations in hand, Edwardsburg officials are looking forward to making the future designed through the Edwardsburg Vision Project a reality. Currently, Marchetti and Smothermon are looking for volunteers to take part in four separate committees that will work toward that goal.

“Each one will investigate how we can move forward,” Marchetti said. “Towards the end, we will have those committees meet together.”

While Marchetti said she expects residents to begin to see changes and improvements within the next year, both she and Smothermon said the overall vision of the project would be years in the making.

“People need to realize that this is not going to happen overnight,” Smothermon said. “But if we can, over time, add some of these things, it will be good for our community.”

“[In five to 10 years], I hope Edwardsburg will be a place that is welcoming, that is thriving and a vibrant community,” Marchetti added.

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