The community is continually changing around us and I would like to take a moment and highlight some of the projects taking place. We have been investing in our own community’s infrastructure. Our desire is to see the community continually improve. Businesses have been helping in this effort with their private investments in Three Rivers. I hope after reading this you will be encouraged by what you see and understand why we are optimistic about Three Rivers.
Joe Bippus, City Manager
Essex Wire Site
It is really happening!! For years this abandoned factory complex has been an eyesore for our community. The City has demolished buildings, removed rubble and performed environmental cleanup activities with the help of grants. Today the cleanup continues. Six acres of the property now have a new building and parking area for a local trucking company. It’s great to see the industrial property turned back to a usable space!! It’s also exciting to see this central part of the City being re-purposed and productive again. The City is currently negotiating with another business to reuse the remainder of the property.
Our downtown has had many renovations over the years that have brought offices, commercial businesses, apartments, and a theater. Recently, two new stores underwent a façade and interior redesign. James Sherman Salon expanded in record time and completed a total renovation of a store front. He continues to expand his business with a loyal following of satisfied customers.
Tim Raakman has also completed a facelift on the front of his building located at 51 North Main Street. Tim is working hard to complete inside renovations to open a coffee house style bakery.
A few years ago the City installed new playground equipment at Scidmore Park. As it came time to replace the wood mulch ground cover that is used to protect kids while playing a local business man offered to replace it with rubber mulch. The rubber mulch is more durable, will last longer, and looks great!! With the volunteer help of area contractors and City DPS crews a $40,000 dollar project was accomplished.
Our second district park was moved a few years ago to a larger location. The City has been installing play equipment, seating, bike racks, and basketball courts. This year we obtained additional land for a parking lot and completed the fencing around the park.
American Axle is moving to reclaim their spot as the largest employer in the county. They recently announced that they will hire another 500 associates to prepare for running a new product line that they have developed and will be bringing to market. We are excited about their decision to bring jobs and investment to Three Rivers. We have many great manufacturing companies that compete globally. Each of them is dedicated to the area and supports this community. We appreciate the talented workforce who works hard every day to make their company a success.
The newest member of our expanding commercial district is Menards Home Improvement store. They have built a 200,000 square foot facility to serve our community and those within a 50 mile radius. This new store will create another 160 jobs for our area.
The City enjoys a couple locally owned coffee shops that provide delicious food and a comfortable atmosphere. However, we still are happy to have a new Biggby Coffee house open its doors on the west side of town. They offer a delicious cup of coffee and specialty drinks to meet any coffee lover’s tastes.
New Taco Bell
For many years Three Rivers Taco Bell was a small store located on a tiny lot. The store owner demolished the old location and built a new, larger store next door. The new restaurant seats 50 people and has enough room for parking and a drive through. The store’s updated appearance compliments the businesses around it.
The City recently switched from a non-chlorinated water system into a chlorinated system. The chlorine is added at all of our well sites. The system is automated to make operation simpler. While installing the system we replaced several underground waterlines to improve the quality of the water and all for adequate distribution. The new system is now operational and will provide another layer of safety for our residents.
Waste Water System
The City owns and operates a Clean Water Plant that treats residential and industrial waste material from all of its users. The system was overhauled this past year. We installed new automated equipment and some redundant backup systems to prevent a catastrophic failure. This system is what allows the City to support so many commercial and industrial customers. Without it our area would not be able to expand and provide jobs for so many people.
Street and Sidewalk Repair
Each year our City budgets to repair several streets and replace sidewalks throughout the City. We feel having both a drivable and walkable community is important. We have a dedicated millage for this work and it will need to be renewed by the voters in the next couple of years if we want to continue this type of work. This year we completed Maple Street, West Street, and River road. We move on to Garden Street and 4th Ave next.
East Parking Lot
In 2007/2008 we created a new parking area of our downtown. The new lot instantly became an accepted amenity that the community praised. The entire project could not be completed in one year due to the cost so a phased approach was used. This year we completed phase two and have received the same reaction. A third and final phase will be completed when funds are available and property owners find an acceptable design.
The mural mall is an opening between our downtown buildings and serves as a walkway between Main Street and our West City Parking lot. The mall area was deteriorating due to age and use. The City received a $750,000 grant to redesign the mural mall and replace the downtown’s decorative street lights with new LED lights. The new mall will be handicap accessible and serve as an outdoor meeting area as well as a walkway.
We had a meeting with the development team for Aldi’s Grocery stores. They are planning to build a 15,000 square foot store in 2013, and feature their own product brands at an affordable price. We reviewed our ordinances with them and expect them to submit a site plan this spring.
The City received a grant to rebuild the skate park in Memory Isle Park. We are planning a multi-sport outdoor facility that we can build in phases. Currently we are working with a designer to get a skate park concept. We have taken input from local skaters on what they want and are working to incorporate those elements into a design.