If you were unable to attend the March 15th, 2017 Calumet community meeting that this year was called the Calumet Rendezvous (and last year was called Pizza and Politics) what follows is a step-by-step account of the event!
Around 6:00 pm Wednesday, March 15th a group of about 40 folks filed into the Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne's, signed in and got down to the business of eating. Main Street Calumet (MSC) hosts this event and provided pizza from Jim's Pizza of Calumet, a gluten-free option, and a tossed salad. Around 6:30 pm Main Street Calumet Executive Director Leah Polzien welcomed the group and introduced the first of six speakers for the evening, Calumet Township Supervisor Paul Lehto.
Lehto spoke for 10-15 minutes, recounting the past year's successes and updating the group about projects that are in the works for Calumet Township in 2017. The list included road work projects, acquisition of the Depot building and lot, new rink boards at the Calumet Colosseum, improvements to the Calumet Lake Lion's Park and the Drill Shop/Curling Club Building. While the Depot Building has already been acquired, several of the other projects Lehto mentioned are in the planning stages and the Township will be seeking funding over the next several months to complete these plans. Lehto also spoke with pride about the Calumet High School Hockey program and congratulated them on making it to the State Championship game on occurred March 11, 2017.
Polzien then introduced Village of Calumet Council President David Geisler. While cake was distributed Geisler announced the reason for the celebratory dessert, which was to acknowledge the March 19, 1875 incorporation of the Village of Calumet and to welcome the new Village Administrator, Joe Snow. Geisler introduced Snow who then briefly recounted his military background, his happiness to be in Calumet and his desire to serve the community. Snow encouraged anyone with concerns to give him a call at the Village Hall or to stop in and see him. Geisler then reported on a few projects ahead for the village including an infrastructure project on Elm Street and a portion of 8th Street which will result in replacement of the water and sewer lines as well as resurfacing the overlying streets and sidewalks. The project could take place in 2017 and will cost around $800,000. The project will be completed if the Village is successful in its bid for a State of Michigan Infrastructure Grant that will cover 90% of the cost.
Geisler also reported that the Village will need to begin taking part in the State of Michigan's Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) Program if it is to be successful in competing for grants in the future. Starting in autumn 2017, communities that are not RRC Certified will lose points when being considered for grants and eventually may become ineligible for grant funding through the state. The RRC Program requires communities to participate in best practices for community planning, including having up-to-date Master Plans which must include a Complete Streets Plan and Zoning Plan (all of which must be made available on-line). The community must also have in place a Corridor Plan and a Capital Improvements Plan. These plans are typically written by professionals and often cost upwards of $10,000 to produce. While the process is costly the purpose is that a community have a well-developed, efficient, clear, and transparent process for anyone wishing to develop or redevelop property within a community.
The next speaker to take the floor was Village of Calumet Historic District Commission (HDC) Chairman, Chris Green. Green recounted the mission of the HDC: to keep the Calumet Historic District looking historic. He explained where the HDC's authority comes from and where to find the HDC Guidelines online (under the Resources tab at www.mainstreetcalumet.com). Green made it a point to clarify that it is not the Keweenaw National Historical Park (KNHP) that dictates changes to the exterior of buildings, but rather the Historic District Commission, which issues Certificates of Appropriateness to building owners for façade improvements. Chairman Green also let the group know that while the HDC meets monthly, its members are available to help folks plan their projects at any time. The HDC does not intend to be a punitive body but rather one that helps building owners make choices regarding changes to façades that preserve the historic look of our community.
Lastly, Polzien presented the Main Street Calumet (MSC) Annual Report and spoke about the organization's achievements over the past year. She then introduced the 2017 MSC membership program. One exciting development is that residential and business members are now able to sign up and pay for Main Street Calumet memberships directly through the Main Street website. The change reduces paperwork for volunteers and allows members to manage their own accounts, including what shows up in the on-line member directory. Polzien was also happy to report that MSC will be producing 5,000 copies of a new Calumet Adventure Guide that will be distributed to Visitor's Centers across Michigan. The brochure is currently the only brochure available that features the Village of Calumet, its businesses and surrounding attractions. To support Main Street Calumet, view the Annual Report and learn more about what supporting Main Street does for Calumet, click here.