SOUTH HAVEN — When South Haven city officials travel to Portland, Mich. on Aug. 16 for the annual Mayor’s Exchange Day, they’ll travel to a mid-Michigan town that has more in common with this lakeshore town than one might think.
Both cities are relatively the same size, with a similar population. Both have large downtown pavilions, waterfront access, recreational trails, and as it turns out, both are celebrating their 150th anniversaries this year.
“We haven’t done this for probably five years,” said Deb Davidson, communications director for South Haven, regarding the Mayor’s Exchange Day.
The exchange day, sponsored by the Michigan Association of Mayors and Michigan Municipal League, is a voluntary annual event in which officials from similar size municipalities can visit with one another and see how each town serves its residents.
Because Portland just happens to be celebrating its sesquicentennial, South Haven officials thought it might be a good idea this year to take part in the exchange.
“They reached out to us,” Davidson said.
“We are excited to host the City of South Haven in Portland on Friday, Aug. 16,” said Portland Clerk Nikki Miller.
Portland, located in Ionia County, has earned the names “Cool City” and “Michigan Main Street Community,” in recent years from the Michigan Economic Development Corp and Pure Michigan. The town is situated at the confluence of the Grand and Looking Glass rivers, and is often referred to as “The City of Two Rivers.” Its highlights include a large downtown pavilion that can be enclosed during inclement weather and 10 miles of paved trails through and around town.
Portland officials have already put together an itinerary for South Haven city officials when they visit.
“They will visit Portland’s District Library, the hydroelectric dam and electric facility, the Red Mill Pavilion and Portland’s extensive Rivertrail Linear Park system, via golf carts,” Miller said. “We will also visit other Portland city facilities along with recent and ongoing development projects.”
South Haven officials will get the chance to roll out the welcome mat to Portland officials on Friday, Aug. 2.
While in town, Portland officials will tour the South Haven lighthouse, visit the Michigan Maritime Museum, sail on the Friends Good Will tall ship, eat lunch at the North Side Marina and tour the city to visit the downtown, industrial parks, and municipal facilities, including the water filtration plant on South Beach.