While downtown New Buffalo sits in snow

While everyone on the DDA is focusing on the style of lighting for downtown New Buffalo, they are ignoring one of the most important upgrade that could increase the viability of the business community.  Other cities along the Lake Michigan coast realized years ago that installing a snow melt system, when making improvements, was a wise and profitable move, why not New Buffalo?

Grand Haven


17 thoughts on “While downtown New Buffalo sits in snow

  1. Susan Gotfried Post author

    You are right, Robert Kemper appears to be a very intelligent person. He has risen to be the most powerful person in the city without having to bother with elections. And it seems that if he would take a ride up to South Haven and Holland tomorrow or Tuesday, he could easily see for himself how much nicer the streets and sidewalks in those downtown look than ours. Plus if he took a few minutes and spoke to the merchants in those cities, he could gage how economics are impacted by the clear warm streets and sidewalks. But he does have to contend with a city council that has taken a strong stand of support for their street supervisor and his enemies have become their’s. This includes much of the towns people but the inner circle of the city council who hang together at the Yacht Club continue to support the street supervisor. It is discouraging that they are allowing their support of their employee to color their ability to see the benefits of a snow melt system. Perhaps Kemper is above all that, besides, the more income generated in the downtown, the more money Kemper’s DDA gets. Increasing economic viability year round only helps everyone.

  2. Michael Patrick

    Why wouldn’t an intelligent man like Robert Kemper see the benefit of having this idea at least investigated? Do you think that recording of the current street supervisor talking about shooting a councilwoman is still impacting the ability to present diverse ideas to the machine that runs your town?

  3. Susan Gotfried Post author

    I went around to the homes on the streets that were slated for the sidewalks. Most of the people living on them were against the sidewalks and signed the petition – but the city council members didn’t even look at the names. They didn’t care the people impacted by the cement slabs didn’t want them. I don’t think the city council would really care what the merchants want, it is all up to Mr. Kemper, owner of the Downtown Development Authority. If he wants heated streets and sidewalks, the council will agree, if he doesn’t, he won’t bring it up. Do any of them really think that people will brave the snow piles and slippery streets to look at the downtown’s new lights?

  4. Michael Patrick

    One letter to your City Council is nothing compared to you creating an online petition and giving some to the downtown businesses owners to show them how much support there really is out there for something like this.

  5. Susan Gotfried Post author

    These are very good ideas Michael. We can only hope our city council will read them and consider that cost of trying to move snow and the erosion of the streets due to salt plus how warmed snowless streets attract people – the people who can travel up to Grand Haven instead of stopping in New Buffalo. You should send your ideas to the city council members.

  6. Michael Patrick

    After seeing how the downtown handled the snow this morning I could see how heated sidewalks will save some money over many years by eliminating the need for salting, shoveling and by extending the life of the walks by avoiding frost heave. But it doesn’t have to pay back all the extra cost on those items alone. How much is it worth to make shopping and eating downtown more enjoyable, give quality of life benefits to the seniors and physically impaired who need walkers and wheelchairs, folks pushing a baby stroller and the joggers/walkers. Then there are the merchants who would have no complaints for not shoveling timely, lessen the worry over lawsuits for ice slip & falls or having to keep bags of salt and shovels around. New Buffalo would also have a marketing advantage that no other local shopping districts have. Finally couldn’t it also be possible that the town will just be seen for some innovative thinking and become a more desirable year-round destination instead of being thought of as a 3 month beach town? Now you gotta admit even if you had teams of these guys you wouldn’t get all that …

  7. Susan Gotfried Post author

    It would have been appropriate and useful for these type of issues to be addressed through a public hearing process prior to beginning the improvement plan. Alternative energy sources that are becoming affordable and accessible plus desirable in cities were not considered. Norrow mindedness instead.

  8. olddog5

    Even if one does not use this street or that sidewalk, just driving by and looking at these improvements lifts all boats.
    Heated streets and walks. Seems bit much. Better spend on public toilets. Only not in my back yard.

  9. Susan Gotfried Post author

    I guess I don’t recall saying that or writing that. There was no attempt to look to other cities for best practices to see what worked and didn’t work. The last time I was in Grand Rapids, Holland, and South Haven, I didn’t notice a big power plant downtown. I guess they had proper planning.

    If the leadership of New Buffalo didn’t even look at the option of heated sidewalks and streets in downtown because they juts ‘thought’ they couldn’t do it, that is a shame and quite a defeatist attitude for a downtown enhancement that could draw tourist all through the winter.

  10. Jameson

    So you are saying that with proper planning, you would have been ok with AEP buildng a large power plant in New Buffalo to allow your heated sidewalks? Come on!

  11. Susan Gotfried Post author

    I believe that through proper planning, New Buffalo leadership could have figured that out – Holland’s, Grand Rapids’ Traverse City’s and South Haven’s leadership worked it out through proper planning, none of those cities relied on private citizens to do their research for them. If there had been an attempt for proper planning through the planning commission, many of these type of issues could have been discussed with the engineers that either the city had contracted with or at that time, had on staff. If the tax payers in New Buffalo had been part of the planning through a comprehensive master plan, we would all feel ownership of the downtown instead of feeling alienated and mocked for making suggestions that would really enhance the downtown.

  12. Jameson

    Where do you propose NB puts the power plant that will supply the warmer liquid throughout the snow melt systems? That’s how Holland and Grand Haven are set up. With all your “research” on the matter, I’m sure you’re able to provide solutions instead of complaints…..

  13. Susan Gotfried Post author

    I have to disagree Ray. If the city decides to fix the sewer problem that floods the corner of Norton and E. Detroit, it will cost all the tax payers but only benefit those who travel that route. If they ever get around to fixing Clay Street, the parents of children will benefit (mainly their cars) but I never use Clay Street but I think it will be money well spent. At least the downtown serves the entire community and is our economic base What bothers me the most is that the Downtown Development Authority now owns almost half the city and doesn’t plan to use their tax dollars to spend down the cost of the downtown project but will reap the tax benefits to spend on projects of their choosing – while the DDA will also dictate to the rest of us how our taxes will be spent. It is taxation without representation.

  14. Susan Gotfried Post author

    Perhaps a day trip for the leadership is in order on Monday to see what is possible with detailed planning before starting a major improvement project. I still remember when then City Manager Anderson said there was no reason to have a master plan or the planning commission hold public hearings before starting a multi million dollar project.

  15. Rubia Jasinevicius

    Is it due to the fact that every improvement is dictated by the DDA’s chair? I believe some of the new lights are already up — why wait for city council approval? It’s a wonderful life in Kemperville, or is it?

  16. Ray

    Problem with that would be that somehow the entire city would end up paying for the few who would benefit, just like they are now…

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