DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac residents will get the chance to offer their opinions of city parks and future plans at a public hearing set for Monday at Dowagiac City Hall. The hearing will start at 7 p.m., just prior to that night’s city council meeting.
City Manager Kevin Anderson said the purpose of the new plan is to update the city’s park and open space plan for the next five years, 2020 through 2024. He said the hearing is part of the city’s effort to gather information from a variety of sources about what city parks should look like.
Anderson expects the city council to adopt the updated plan in either November or December. An updated plan needs to be in place in order for the city to apply for Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and other grants to pay for park improvements.
He said new ideas mentioned in the proposed updated plan include adding a linear park on East Railroad Street and continuing work to link existing parks and trails. He said the linear park on East Railroad would utilize railroad owned property to establish the park, with the goal of better connecting neighborhoods in that area to the downtown.
Linking existing parks with a trail system is already underway with the establishment of Schuur Park on Cass Avenue and work to develop the Elks Trail. The city has received state grants for both projects and expects to apply for a grant next year to actually construct the Elks Trail.
The goal eventually is to create a trail system connecting the new Schuur Park to Riverside Drive via the Elks Club land, and then to existing trails in the city cemetery. From the cemetery, the trail system would eventually connect up to both Rudolphi Woods and the Southwestern Michigan College campus.
Anderson said the city’s plans for Rudy Park on the city’s east side are on the back burner for now after three attempts to get a state grant have fallen short.
In addition to the parks plan, the city is also in the process of updating its master plan. The city has held public open houses and the planning commission will have a public hearing on the proposed new master plan on Nov. 4. It is expected to come to the city council later that month.