Cassopolis Transformation Project
In 2018, the Village of Cassopolis underwent a year-long process to update their master plan and community recreation plan. The Village, the County, and Cass County Economic Development Committee secured a grant through Michigan State University to develop a plan to revitalize a targeted planning area within the County through placemaking. The planning area was narrowed down to the Broadway Street corridor from the north shore of Stone Lake to the historic County courthouse. This process aligned in timing with the Village’s Master Plan update and this visioning and community meetings helped to shape the community’s vision. Throughout the master planning process, which included extensive community engagement and stakeholder input, Stone Lake was listed as an asset and an anchor to the Village.
Three areas have been identified as the prime opportunities to reinvent the downtown and surrounding area of Cassopolis:
- A new municipal complex for Village staff offices, meeting space, and Department of Public Works garage
- A streetscape downtown
- Disbrow Beach and Pathway with amphitheater, large outdoor seating space, access/hookups for food trucks, sand swim area, pier with boat parking, and ADA accessible boardwalk to Lakeshore Drive down S. Broadway (M-62).
The Village of Cassopolis’s current village hall was no longer fitting the needs of the Village Staff and was in need of some major renovations. The Village decided to centralize all of their departments under one roof with a combined municipal complex. The site selected on Disbrow St. is currently home to the Department of Public Works (DPW) warehouse, which is slated to be demolished to make way for the new building. The new municipal complex will house the Village Hall staff, Council Chambers, the Police Department, the DPW offices in approximately 5,800 square feet, and the DPW equipment warehouse and maintenance in a 12,000 square foot pre-engineered metal building. The Exterior of the building will focus on an aesthetic that fits the rural farming based community feel by incorporating stone veneer, fiber cement board and batten siding, and asphalt shingle roofing. The interior of the building will focus on low maintenance equipment, and durable materials with easy cleanability throughout. A larger, centrally located breakroom will allow the departments to more readily have impromptu all-staff meetings, as well as the ability to co-mingle on a regular basis. This breakroom area will open out onto a patio space that the staff can use for gardening, gathering, and enjoying the outdoors on their breaks. All three of the departments that will be sharing this building have quite a large range of needs specific to their work, and as such, finding the most efficient use of space and budget was very important to the Village.
The streetscape featuring new infrastructure, including water main and storm sewer, lane reconfiguration and bump outs for traffic calming, pedestrian safety and walkability improvements, outdoor eating space for restaurants, and bike lanes. The goal is to create a calm downtown area where residents and visitors alike will slow down, make use of outdoor venues, and become more connected to the town and their fellow citizens.
Finding several parcels of land available along Stone Lake, a major proposed project involves building a public beach within walking distance of the downtown with parking, the ability to have special events by the lake, a portage for canoes and kayaks, and a dock containing transient slips for visitors and casual boaters. This development has the potential to serve as a community gathering spot and an attraction for downtown Cassopolis. It provides residents and visitors with the ability to sit by the lake and have a snack or meet with friends. The development also provides enough space for community events and activities. In the end, the planners and community agreed that the public access to Stone Lake needed to be an extension of the downtown. Disbrow Street will be abandoned and recreated as public access to the Lake. This project will not only help to support the community’s resources, but create a draw and an anchor to the downtown.
Wightman is excited to partner with the Village of Cassopolis and see the dream of its transformation become reality.