Paw Paw Council reviews options for dam repair; approves downtown streetscape concept

Robin Racette Griffin –
Since April, the Village of Paw Paw has sought at several public forums, citizens’ input on an evolving plan for resigning the sidewalks along Michigan Avenue. Abon-marche engineers presented a preliminary plan to the Village Council for first critique, and a somewhat different final concept was approved in December. An-other ongoing local topic has been the county’s increased services for its veterans and the new Veterans Services Office established with state grant money. Van Buren County’s first Veterans Service Coordinator Karee Krause met with area vets at an open house for the office in August.Engineers’ concept for Downtown Paw Paw • Michigan Ave.-Kalamazoo St.Engineers’ concept for Downtown Paw Paw • Gremps to Kalamazoo streetsEngineers’ concept for Downtown Paw Paw • Kalamazoo to Niles streets

    PAW PAW - During their last meeting of 2019, Paw Paw Village Council members moved ahead on several ongoing concerns.
    On December 9, engineers from Barr Engineering Co. of Grand Rapids presented a report and plan options for repairing the Briggs Pond Dam.  Barr was retained by the Village in 2018 to inspect the auxiliary spillway constructed after the earthen dam had washed out in 2017. Their inspection determined the spillway structure was already in poor condition and “was unlikely to achieve the Village’s goal of a 30-year fix.”
    Peter Hinck and Chris Miron presented concept designs for two alternatives to replace the spillway, seeking the council’s input and direction.
    “I want to assure you that what we’re proposing is a long-term solution,” said Hinck. He stated that the other objectives of both structure options were to maintain the current up-stream water level with the ability to safely manage the increased flow of a flood emergency; maintain safe pedestrian access across the spillway; and create an at-tractive “waterfall”.  Neither system proposed will require the operation of gates to control the flow, though a gated structure is currently in use. Miron noted, “With proper design, we should see less use of that gate.”
    Following their presentation outlining the two construction concepts, the engineers asked the council for its preference of the two, aesthetics, landscaping, and pedestrian/bridge suggestions to begin the design phase.  But the council wanted more time to consider the options.
    “This decision isn’t entirely up to us. The public loves this dam more than it loves us,” said Trustee Eric Larcinese. “We need a lot of public input on this.”
    Abonmarche consultants Chris Cook and Kathy Burczak returned to the council with a revised concept for the Michigan Avenue sidewalk reconstruction project. Incorporating the preferences of downtown business owners and citizens’ input, the new concept featured wider parallel parking lanes, and fewer sidewalk patio “bump-outs”, maintaining as many parking spaces as possible.
    The council discussed the need for the bump-outs at great length, finally agreeing to three between Gremps and Niles streets.
    “This is an issue that comes up in every community,” said Cook. “Beautification runs somewhat in conflict with function and accessibility.  But, in making your downtown a destination, the bump-outs do become part of the ‘coolness’.”
    Village President Roman Plaszczak also noted that in acquiring grant funding for beautification projects, the inclusion of these types of features in a plan are key.
    Council members approved a motion to accept the final concept with the changes they had made.
    The council also:
    • Adopted a resolution of support for refugee resettlement within the Village of Paw Paw;
    • Approved an agreement with the Paw Paw Fire Board to provide fire protection to the village for a five-year term.

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Paw Paw, MI 49079
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