(New Buffalo, MI) - Drafting of a waterfront master plan for the City of New Buffalo appears to be wrapping up.
Work on the master plan, funded by a $50,000 federal grant, started late in 2019 but ran into major delays from more pressing issues such as COVID-19 and the restrictions that followed to slow the spread of the virus, said Mike Huber, Senior Urban Planner with Abonmarche, a Benton Harbor based engineering firm putting together the master plan.
Huber said further pushing back the project was addressing lakefront flooding linked to record high water levels on Lake Michigan and the unexpected coronavirus death of City Manager Dave Richards last month. “We’ve kind of been in a holding pattern since we were able to compile some of the initial first round of draft planning,” he said.
Huber said he expects to present to the city a draft of the master plan along with cost estimates for each of the improvements outlined in the document for possible revision sometime in the coming weeks.
He anticipates a final draft of the master plan to be presented for additional feedback from local officials and citizens during an actual physical meeting of the public adhering to social distancing guidelines before the end of March.
Huber did not release details of the preliminary master plan since the draft has not been shared yet with the city. However, he said the plan does contain solutions to major priorities identified by the community like beach overcrowding, access by vehicles and pedestrians and improvements to restrooms and concessions. “Rest assured our plan will find ways to address those kind of keys issues,” Huber said. The master plan will also reveal sources of potential revenue to help the city finance the projects.
All of the work combined is expected to run into the millions of dollars. If approved, the city is not committed to the master plan that would only be a guide for choosing and paying for projects. Huber said the projects could also be done over an extended period to fit the city’s pocket book. “We did try to take a phased approach so that the city could implement pieces at a time and make improvements that are a cost effective way for the city,” Huber said.