Master plan outlines future development for Cassopolis

NOW: Master plan outlines future development for Cassopolis

CASSOPOLIS, Mich. – Leaders in Cassopolis say a new master plan will transform the small town, leaving an impact for years to come.

The Cassopolis Village Council unanimously approved a master plan, and the $7.5 million needed to implement it, at a meeting at the end of December. Village leaders say a mixture of saved money and a small loan will be pay for the project.

It outlines nine future development goals over the next five years for the village.

“If we don’t invest in ourselves, no one else will invest in us,” said Village Manager Emilie Sarratore. “I can’t make business move here, I can’t make residents move here, but of what we do have control of here in this village is investing in our infrastructure, making it a friendlier place to be, making it a better place to live. Those are the things we can control.”

Village leaders say a mix of saved funds and a small loan will pay for the project.

“I think this project shows our residents and our county… that we are ready to move forward and we are ready to invest in ourselves,” said Sarratore. “In turn, we anticipate that people will want to invest in us.”

ABC57 spoke to a number of residents. Some said they won’t get excited until they see the plan turn into reality off of the paper. Others were all for it even in the design phase.

“I’m just glad to see improvement,” said Cassopolis resident Mary Tompi. “It’s nice knowing that there are new businesses coming in and that it’s not going to be a ghost town. Somebody else cares besides just a handful of people.”

Village leaders say the plan is now in the hard design phase. They hope to break ground on some projects this fall.

“I’ve seen the master plan and I think it’s great,” said Tompi. “I’ll be the first one to get my beach chair down there.”

The full master plan can be accessed here. A list of the future development goals is below.

GOAL #1: Design and implement a road diet for Broadway Street, incorporate bike lanes, improve crosswalks, curb bump-outs at crossing locations, reduce vehicle lanes from four lanes to there, replace downtown sidewalks; Build an ADA accessible pathway from Downtown Cassopolis connecting to Lakeshore Drive

GOAL #2: Improve existing commercial buildings within historic downtown Cassopolis through façade improvements, upper story apartment fit-outs, and main level retail attraction

GOAL #3: Targeting mid-market single family homes, distribute a request proposal to sell village-owned property on the northwest shore of Stone Lake to a real estate developer

GOAL #4: Establish a new public park on Stone Lake’s northeast shore to anchor Cassopolis’ south end of downtown with a public beach, event space, bathrooms, fishing pier, and transient boat docks

GOAL #5: Work with current and potential owners in the village’s industrial park to expand marketing opportunities for future development, improve accessibility & asthetics, and add amenities for employees for breaks and after work

GOAL #6: Combine village administrative services with the Department of Public Works to form a Village Municipal Complex for more efficient use of facilities and to create new opportunities for the village to lease space they already own

GOAL #7: ID residential growth opportunities and develop a strategy to attract housing types that match the State of Michigan’s definition of “Missing Middle Housing,” including: townhouses, mansion flats, fourplexes, duplexes, live/work, etc.

GOAL #8: Implement a partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation, Cass County, the City of Dowagiac and LaGrange Township to establish a U.S. bike route along M-62 between downtown Cassopolis and downtown Dowagiac

GOAL #9: Plan and develop gateways from the east at M-60 , from the north at M-62, and from the south at M-62/60

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