In 2015/2016, Texas Township began evaluating options for a redesign of the existing Township Hall. The current structure was constructed over 30 years ago with an addition (where the current staff offices are located) constructed in 1994-1995. A Fire Station addition was built in 2012 to accommodate the implementation of a full-time Fire Department.
Over the past twenty years, the township has experienced substantial growth; the current Township Hall is inadequate to meet the current and future needs of the township. Additionally, the existing facility has numerous structural issues and areas that need substantial repair.
In 2016, the Township Board contracted with Wightman and Associates to complete a Feasibility Study of the existing building. In 2017/2018, the Township Board contracted with Progressive AE to complete a schematic design of a new/expanded facility on the existing site. That process presented many challenges due to space constraints and site limitations. Due to the historic flooding impacting hundreds of residents, the project was placed on hold.
In late 2020, as the flood mitigation efforts dramatically improved, the board decided to re-engage the project. When the board was initially considering sites, Texas Drive Park was not an option. However, due to the County’s purchase of Rota Kiwan in 2020, and their intent to transform the approximate 212-acre site into a County Park, repurposing a portion of Texas Drive Park for township use was viable without reducing the available park space.
This site option allows the township to demolish a portion of the existing township hall to expand parking and green space for the Corners downtown area as well as to provide additional space for the thriving Farmers’ Market. The portion of the building containing the Board Room, public restrooms, and storage would be renovated for the Fire Department to provide much needed training and office space for their expanded Fire Department team. It will also provide storage and office space for the Farmers’ Market Manager as well as provide opportunities for space to be utilized for elections.
The board has contracted with Progressive AE to begin the conceptual design phase of the revised project. Below is a draft site schematic outlining proposed placement of the new facility on the Texas Drive Park site.
The current facility is not adequate for the township’s expanded staffing needs. We also want a facility that better meets the needs of our community while improving accessibility through having a Board Room/Precinct space on the ground floor.
From a feasibility perspective, the board has concerns over using the existing site for the Township Hall project – largely due to the limited space available.
Phase I construction on the development of the 6th Street Park began last year. In addition to the walking path and pickleball courts that were constructed, Phase I of the 6th Street Park will feature two new multi-purpose fields. The fields are tentatively scheduled to open in the fall of 2021 after the grass has time to mature.
The current Master Plan recently adopted for Texas Drive Park is primarily passive recreation. The intent is that the current use of the Texas Drive Park fields would be transitioned to the 6th Street Park, creating available space for the Township Hall.
Additionally, the Township Board felt it was more fiscally responsible to use property we already own versus purchasing additional property in the DDA.
The township has discussed the option of acquiring land for the project, but wants to minimize the project expense as much as possible. Utilizing property the township already owns will reduce the funding needed for the project.
We also don’t want to limit the availability of space for businesses, retail stores, and living space in the downtown area, but do want to remain centrally located for easy access.
The Master Plan recently adopted for Texas Drive Park is primarily passive recreation. The Master Plan outlines transitioning the fields from Texas Drive Park to the 6th Street Park in a future phase of park development.
The approved Texas Drive Park plan does include an informal baseball field, which could potentially be developed as a formalized field.
Kalamazoo County is in the process of purchasing Rota-Kiwan, located across the street from Texas Drive Park. They are planning to utilize this 212-acre site for a new County Park, which will be focused on passive recreation (i.e. hiking, walking, etc.) similar to Al Sabo.
Additionally, Texas Township is continuing to invest in the development of the 6th Street Park. Phase I construction, started in 2020, featured eight pickleball courts, a half mile walking path, and two multi-purpose fields (which we hope to open in fall 2021 after the grass has matured).
The current proposed plan is to demolish a portion of the existing structure (where the current township offices are located) to increase available parking for downtown businesses and the thriving farmers market while also increasing greenspace in the DDA.
The Fire Department and a portion of the existing structure (where the board room is located) will remain and provide additional space primarily for Fire Department operations.
The Farmers’ Market will remain on the existing site. By demolishing a portion of the current Township Hall structure, we will be able to increase available parking for the Farmers’ Market. Additionally, this increased space would allow us to consider new programming options in the future.
The township has been setting aside funds for this project since 2017. In addition to utilizing Capital Improvement funding, the township plans to finance the remaining portion of the project. We don’t have a finalized project cost at this time, but are anticipating a facility size of approximately 10,000 sqft. Preliminary cost figures for a building of this size are $3-$3.5M.
As much as possible, the township intends to reduce direct impact to the surrounding neighborhoods. This will be accomplished through screening, intentional lighting selections, and site placement.
While there will be a slight increase in traffic, township business is being done online to a larger degree, and the township only hosts a handful of evening meetings.
With the proposed relocation, the township will be able to increase the availability of parking at Texas Drive Park, which will be of benefit to the community during peak park use times.
The township is cognizant of the possibility for neighborhood impacts and is working with Progressive AE to minimize impacts as much as possible through the design process.
We’ve received many questions about what is planned for the Rota-Kiwan site now that Kalamazoo County has finalized their purchase. This site is intended to be a park and it will be open to the public. Please see the below statement from Kalamazoo County on their future plans:
On March 17, 2021 Kalamazoo County purchased the former 212 acre camp Rota-Kiwan in Texas Township. The property will become the newest Kalamazoo County Park and will be named the Arthur E. & Mildred H. Woollam Nature Preserve. Now that the purchase is complete, Kalamazoo County Parks will begin the process of evaluating existing buildings and facilities and developing a master plan that will provide a vision for the future of the preserve. The recreation uses will be nature based and will utilize some of the existing facilities and new attractions will also be constructed. With over 60 buildings on the site, we are fortunate that some will be repurposed. Restrooms, picnic shelters, indoor meeting space and youth camp facilities are some of the existing buildings that may be reused. Opening the site for public use will be dependent on completion of master plan, capital improvements needed, and funding available. At the April 8 Park Commission Meeting the Park Commission will begin planning for this exciting future. The future uses of the park will be focused on the incredible natural resources. Nature based activities may include hiking, picnicking, group picnic facilities, youth camp facilities, playgrounds, use of Bass Lake, and other passive recreation uses. The park will not include organized sport fields or facilities or other uses that will require large disturbance of the natural resources. In partnership with the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, the property will also be protected by a conservation easement that will protect the property from non-park uses and will preserve the parks unique natural resources.
Evaluating and Documenting Natural Conditions of the property
Evaluate existing structures, utilities, and physical infrastructure
Partner with Parks Foundation for fundraising to improve the property
Complete Master Plan – includes public participation
Begin capital improvement projects
Open for public use – Date TBD
For those interested in participating in the planning process, they can email email@example.com or call Kalamazoo County Parks at (269) 383-8778. Updates will also be posted on our website: www.kalamazoocountyparks.com
Utilizing a portion of Texas Drive Park for the Township Hall would not impact the township’s ability to apply for or be awarded parks grants.