Pocket park planned for downtown Watervliet in Berrien County

What’s happening: The largely rural community of Watervliet in Berrien County will soon activate a vacant lot in the city’s downtown, transforming the parcel by way of a pocket park, community gathering space, and more. The new pocket park will allow for year-round programming, which could include farmers markets, festivals, food truck rallies, and pop-up markets.

What’s planned: The new pocket park will include a pavilion and seating space, enabling more events in downtown Watervliet, which could include a summer concert series. Park features will also include a fountain, tables and seating, decorative overhead lighting, shade trees and improved landscaping, and paved and grass surfaces for congregating.

A rendering of the planned pocket park.
How they’re doing it: A partnership that includes the City of Watervliet, Watervliet Downtown Development Authority, Cornerstone Alliance, and an anonymous donor are leading the project, having raised nearly two-thirds of the estimated $200,000 necessary to build the park. It’s hoped that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s placemaking initiative, Public Spaces Community Places, will complete their fundraising efforts. As part of the initiative, project organizers have until Saturday, Dec. 31, to raise $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign. Should they reach their goal, the MEDC will contribute an additional $50,000 matching grant.

The crowdfunding campaign is hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

A rendering of the planned pocket park.
Why it’s important: "Compelling public spaces that are well-designed and robustly programmed are economic drivers for nearby businesses, and they help ensure that our communities are places where employers can attract and retain talent,” says Andrew Haan, Cornerstone Alliance Vice President of Business Development. “The ability to leverage our organizational resources with local and state dollars to improve Berrien County is an incredible opportunity to accelerate growth.”

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