Twin Cities: St. Joseph-Benton Harbor 2018-2020

Project background and rationale

The goal of this project is to assist the City of St. Joseph, the City of Benton Harbor, and the Charter Township of St. Joseph in developing long-term sustainable strategies to maximize the benefits of their harbor and waterfront assets.   

Community meetings and discussions have led to a shared vision for the Twin Cities Harbor. This vision is important for the community and its future because it is constructed by all affected parties and is a compilation of everyone’s ideas and voices. The implementation of this shared vision will increase public confidence, participation, and support in the community as well as economic, cultural, social, and environmental community sustainability, adding value to the harbor. The project team also facilitated a series of meetings to assist the communities with development of a co-governance model to support revitalization of the shared harbor.

Final Project Documents

Process

Community Planning Meeting, June 2018

In June 2018, the Office of the Great Lakes, with the Harbor Conservancy and the project team, hosted a planning workshop to co-create the community engagement charrette process. With support from the National Charrette Institute, preliminary parameters for the Twin Cities visioning process and study area were established and critical stakeholders from each community were identified.

Phase 1 – Research, outreach, charrette preparation, July – September 2018

The process included presentations to community leadership, an initial community visioning session (September 19, 2018), a series of focus groups (September 2018 – October 2019), and technical meetings (October 2018 – January 2019). At the initial visioning meeting (September 19, 2018), attendees weighed in on the future of the Twin Cities waterfront. Community members helped identify assets linked to existing or potential public waterfront uses and/or facilities. In addition, a series of focus groups were held to engage stakeholders.

Focus Group and Technical Meetings

Phase 2 – Charrette process, October 9–11, 2018

The team then followed up with a three-day design charrette to reflect on the communities shared vision. The charrette concluded with a “work in progress” presentation to summarize the proposed vision for the Twin Cities future waterfront.

While the presentation linked below represents the “preferred” vision based on the community feedback from the charrette process, the harbor/waterfront plan depicted in the presentation is not the “final” shared vision for the harbor. There were additional opportunities for comment and revision as the team transitions into the next phase of the project. In addition, the images in the presentation are representative sketches or renderings from the design team to demonstrate the iterative design process. The images included are not all encompassing of the work produced during the charrette and should not be construed as final. Community meetings where hosted  at Kinexus, 499 West Main Street, Benton Harbor, MI.

Phase 3 – Post-charrette, November 2018 – January 2020

The Post-Charrette Process included municipal stakeholder meetings (February – March 2019), community presentations (June – October 2019), governance meetings (September 2019 –January 2020), and presentations to municipal leadership (December 2019 – January 2020).

Interim Stakeholder Meetings

Tuesday, October 15, two sessions

January 2020 Community Presentations

Community Harbor/Waterfront Vision

The documents linked below represent the “preferred” future vision based on community input over the duration of the project. The proposed land use plans and renderings are based on input from hundreds of community members during dozens of meetings. The harbor/waterfront vision that emerged from this project should not be construed as a comprehensive master plan. Any long-term planning or future development within the project area would remain under local control.


In the news


Community photos


Diagram showing 3 visits to the community and what they accomplish each day

What is a charrette?

A design charrette is a facilitated planning process that is open to the public. Participants offer ideas for amenities and improvements they feel would generate more waterfront activity and improve their community. The Twin Cities Harbor Visioning Charrette process will include multiple visits to the community including an initial visioning meeting, a multi-day series of public design sessions where the project team facilitates community discussion and stakeholder meetings, and a final presentation to the community.

The projected outcome of the Twin Cities Harbor Visioning Charrette is that the community, stakeholders, and local units of government will have worked together to create a strategy for implementing a shared harbor vision that will lead to a vibrant and prosperous community.

Attendees label their choices for project options

Final Project Documents

Governance

The process included two governance meetings with multi-jurisdictional representatives to discuss options for a shared governance structure to support effective implementation of future harbor revitalization and long-term harbor maintenance.

Governance Retreat, September 2019

Governance Retreat, October 2019

Special Joint Meeting, January 22, 2020

Communication Materials

Sign In Sheets

We are sensitive to the privacy of those who attended harbor planning sessions. The sign-in sheets for those meetings are available but only by request. To access them we ask that you separately request the sign-in sheet(s) you are interested in. Contact: martink@swmpc.org or (269) 925-1137 ext.1521