Important viewsheds are locations within the community that provide scenic views of natural features, historic sites and structures, or image setting views of the community. Important gateways include major street corridors that serve as entrances to the community, and important street intersections that are entrances to the City's central business district, college and health care campuses. Figure XI-4 illustrates the location of gateway corridors and important viewsheds.

 The following information describes the location and significance of important viewsheds:

Figure XI-4 Locations of Gateway Corridors and Important Viewsheds

  • Point A: The northbound intersection of South Westnedge and South Park is a high elevation point with a slope greater than 12 percent that provides a distant view of the central business district in the heart of the Kalamazoo valley;
  • Point B: The top of the hill in the public park at Woods Lake provides a scenic view of a large open water body and recreation area;
  • Point C: Eastbound Parkview Drive, from Drake Road, looking over the Lee Baker Farm which is owned and operated by W.M.U., provides one of the few open space viewsheds in the City;
  • Point D: Southbound Drake Road, from Stadium Drive, runs along a steep slope bounded by open space and woods;
  • Point E: The high elevation of the hill on eastbound West Michigan Avenue provides a key view of W.M.U.'s Waldo Stadium and the gateway into the central business;
  • Point F: Looking northwest from the east campus of W.M.U. on Oakland Drive provides image setting views of the university campus, especially the Reed Fieldhouse and Waldo Stadium. Looking northeast from the east campus provides an image setting view of the central business district, while views of urban neighborhoods, such as the Vine and South Street historical areas are offered in the foreground;
  • Point G: The steep slopes on top of the West Main Hill neighborhood provides a prominent view to the south of W.M.U.'s Waldo Stadium and the gateway into the central business district;
  • Point H: As one travels northwest along West Main Street out of downtown, image setting views of Kalamazoo's finest historic homes, including the Henderson Castle, and the Mountain Home Cemetery are prominent;
  • Point I: Looking west over the high elevations along Charlotte Street in the Eastside neighborhood, the north and central portion of the City is clearly visible;
  • Point J: As one travels eastward up Gull Road hill, the open space of Riverview Cemetery and the historic Borgess Hospital building are prominently displayed to the north; and
  • Point K: Points along Mt. Olivett and within the Spring Valley Park offer scenic views of the open space and Spring Valley Lake, one of Kalamazoo's largest water bodies and recreation areas.

The land uses, open spaces, and natural features that are visible from these important viewsheds should be preserved and protected from development patterns and structures that will diminish the visual quality of the community. For example, the City should take steps to assure that such views are not cluttered with billboards, transmission towers and other structures that diminish the aesthetics of such views.

 The gateway corridors illustrated on Figure XI-3 are included in the analysis because they function as entrances to the community or to important sites. The important gateway corridors include: Westnedge Avenue, Oakland Drive, Stadium Drive, West Main Street, West Michigan Avenue, Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo Avenue, Portage Street, Gull Road, Kings Highway, East Main Street, and East Michigan Street.

Many of these corridors, such as Oakland Drive, Westnedge Avenue, Stadium Drive, Portage Street, West Main Street, and Kings Highway have highway access. Therefore, visitors to the City, often traveling these routes as they enter the community, get their first impression along these gateways. Oakland Drive is the only gateway corridor that has primarily residential and lower intensity public and semi-public land uses. All other gateways with highway access have a mixture of land uses that were developed over several decades with no apparent cohesiveness in architecture, landscaping, signs, or overall site design.

Gateway corridors that serve as entranceways from neighboring communities include: Gull Road, East Main and East Michigan. As one travels along Gull Road, Borgess Hospital, the Riverview Cemetery and other public uses provide attractive images of the community. However, the commercial land uses at the intersection of Gull Road and Riverview, and along Riverview include a mixture of commercial, heavy commercial and industrial land uses that do not portray a positive community appearance as one enters the central business district. In addition, the intersection of East Main and East Michigan have a mixture of older commercial and residential land uses that are not planned in an orderly fashion and need upgrading as new development occurs.

In addition to gateway corridors, there are segments and key intersections that serve at pivotal entrance ways to important areas of the community. Major corridors that provide entrances to the central business district or important sites include:

  • the intersection of Oakland Drive, Stadium and West Michigan Avenue is a key gateway to the west side of the central business district;
  • West Main Street, traveling east towards Kalamazoo Avenue, is a key gateway to the west side of the central business district;
  • Kings Highway traveling west towards Kalamazoo Avenue is a key gateway to the east side of the central business district;
  • Portage Street traveling north of Miller Avenue, is a gateway to the planned Bronson Healthcare Campus and the south side of the central business district;
  • Westnedge Avenue, traveling south is a key gateway to the north side of the central business district;
  • West Michigan Avenue, traveling west, is a key gateway towards the campuses of Kalamazoo College and Western Michigan University; and
  • the intersections of Riverview, East Main and East Michigan traveling west are key gateways to the east side of the central business district.

Many of these intersections or corridor segments have inappropriate gateway land uses, such as heavy commercial, older industrial, and/or land use conflicts. In addition, most of the areas have older commercial land uses with little landscaping, sign clutter, while some of the intersections have underutilized open spaces.

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