Twin cities sustainable harbor project seeks input from the community

BENTON HARBOR, Mich – Over 100 people filled the conference room at Kinexus in Benton Harbor on Wednesday to see what the future of the St. Joseph and Benton Harbor waterfront could look like.

“It’s a process to listen to the community needs about their harbor,” Michigan Sea Grant educator Mark Breederland said.

City officials, ordinary citizens and project planners gave their input on how to reshape the waterfront.

The project called “Twin Cities Sustainable Harbor Project” was put together by the state of Michigan and private planners with the intention of gathering ideas from the community on what they would like to see put along the river’s edge.

People put dots next to the categories of what they’d like to see incorporated in the plans like commercial space, parks or residential units including single family homes, condos, and housing for seniors.

Breederland says the goal of the three day session is to find concepts people can agree on

“We’ve been listening to the community, it’s like how can we be objective listeners and just try to be a mirror of ideas that the community comes to consensus about,” Breederland said.

The ideas gained from Wednesday’s meeting will be put into visualizations, followed by building community support and political support to fund the project that could cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

“It’s what fits for the twin cities here and what works well for them and their ownership of it but there’s so much potential here,” Breederland said .

The twenty year vision will be put together and the revised plans will be put together following Thursday’s final community listening session.

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