ALLEGAN, Mich. (WZZM) -- It's been three decades since major improvements were made to Allegan's riverfront, but that could change after next week's election. City leaders say a new plan to revitalize the area could be a model for other communities.
On a dreary October day, Allegan business leaders set up a tent to get voters thinking about the riverfront proposal.
"We've got handouts expressing our support of the riverfront proposal," says Tim Perrigo, Executive Director of the Allegan Area Chamber of Commerce.
The riverfront proposal is meant to make the area more friendly for walking, kayaking, and new business.
"Green up the riverfront, provide for more grassy areas," says Robert Hillard, Allegan City Manager. "We know public investment then brings economic investment."
Hillard is asking voters to approve spending $500,000 from special city fund, but he says it would not require any new taxes. Hillard says the project will help put Allegan on the map.
"One of the things we hear often is that, well, we didn't know you were here, we didn't know you had a beautiful historical downtown," says Hillard. "We believe we are a model for southwest Michigan and beyond, because what we're doing is working on the concept of place making, and place making is recreating towns so they're more walkable."
City leaders say because there's a limited amount of funding, figuring out what projects will be prioritized is still an ongoing process. However, one of the most popular ideas is creating a music venue that could also be used for ice skating.
"It's not about just cars and parking, it's about people and enjoyment," says Hillard, who adds the riverfront hasn't had major improvements since the 1980s. "We believe this is the time to reinvest," says Hillard.
The improvement plan would need 60% of the vote in order to pass. If approved, the project would likely start in the next three to five years.