St. Joseph-Benton Harbor 2018

Project Background and Rationale

Michigan is home to more than 100 public marinas and harbors, managed by state, county, or local governments. They are part of a boating culture that draws $2.4 billion in economic activity to the state each year.

The goal of the Twin Cities Sustainable Harbors Initiative is to facilitate the development of long-term, sustainable strategies that enable Michigan’s Great Lakes coastal communities to maximize the benefits of their harbors and waterfront. Coastal communities face multiple challenges such as increasingly scarce state and federal funding as well as fluctuating water levels, increased storm volatility, flooding, and erosion. Signage, access, and connectivity to other community nodes are also challenges. This project addresses these challenges. 

Twin Cities Harbor Visioning Charrette

To assist St. Joseph and Benton Harbor in creating a shared harbor plan, the Department of Natural Resources’ Office of the Great Lakes, the Twin City Harbor Conservancy, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant, and partners are organizing a Twin Cities Harbor Visioning Charrette. These community meetings and discussions will culminate in a clear, shared vision for the Twin Cities Harbor that reflects the entire harbor community.

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.

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.

Phase 1 – Research, Outreach, Charrette Preparation

July – September 2018

  • Gather existing documents.
  • Make presentations to local commissions.
  • Host facilitated focus groups.
  • Plan for the charrette. 

Phase 2 – Charrette Process

September – October 2018

  • Conduct first visioning session at Kinexus, September 19.
  • Host a 3-day design charrette with multiple community engagement meetings, October 9-11 at Kinexus culminating in a final presentation on the preferred alternative.

Phase 3 – Post Charrette

November 2018 – January 2019

  • Create a final design report that documents the generation of the final shared vision for the Twin Cities Harbor.
  • Present final shared vision for the Twin Cities Harbor in a public forum.

February 2019 – March 2019

  • Host governance focus groups (Harbor Conservancy, Elected Officials, Stakeholder groups) to discuss governance structures to implement the vision.