1. Location

The City of Kalamazoo covers an area of approximately 25 square miles. The City is located entirely within Kalamazoo County. It borders the City of Portage to the south, the City of Parchment and Kalamazoo Charter Township to the north, Comstock Charter Township to the east and Oshtemo Charter Township to the west (Figure IX-1).

Due to the proximity of I-94 and US 131 freeways, regional highway access is convenient. The City of Kalamazoo is also connected to nearby communities by numerous county roads. The City is 20 miles west of Battle Creek, approximately 55 miles south of Grand Rapids, and approximately 115 miles west of Detroit. The City of Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University (WMU), Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo Valley Museum, and many other academic, cultural, and sports facilities.

Figure IX-1


Because the City of Kalamazoo corporate area has not grown, the population has declined since 1970, the property tax base has declined (even without adjustment for inflation), the median age of housing has increased, the concentration of low and moderate income households has increased, middle and upper income households have relocated to surrounding communities and the City has limited vacant land for urban uses, the City has been faced with the task of reinvestment and redevelopment of older residential areas as well as non-residential land uses. Accordingly, future demands will be placed on the community in terms of open space development, housing, economic development, and recreation.

2. History

The rolling hills, the prairies and the lush river valley of the Kalamazoo Area were the former waterways and hunting grounds of the Pottawatomi. Known by the Pottawatomi Nation as the area where the water boils in the pot, Kalamazoo became a strategic fording place on the Kalamazoo River. Kalamazoo was set aside as a reservation by the Indian Treaty of 1795.

 Titus Bronson, built the first cabin and became Kalamazoo's first pioneer settler in 1829 on the site that is now Bronson Park. By 1836, approximately, 1,000 people settled in the area, arriving principally from New York and New England. Many immigrants from Holland, Germany, Ireland, and runaway slaves via the Underground Railroad settled in the area during the mid­19th century.

Kalamazoo's geographic location, midway between Chicago and Detroit, played a critical role in its early development. The Kalamazoo River, with its connections to Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes, made transportation and commerce important factors in the City's early growth. Arcadia and Portage Creeks provided water power for early industry and the low muck lands provided fertile ground for celery farming by early Dutch settlers.

3. Physical Characteristics

 a. Environmental Features

The topography in Kalamazoo is characterized by rolling terrain, sloping down to several lakes and streams. The City of Kalamazoo's water resources include Arcadia Creek, Kalamazoo River, and Portage Creek. The lakes and rivers are largely developed and provide important natural features for the community.

 Flood hazard boundary maps designate areas along the Kalamazoo River and its tributaries (Portage, Axtell, Arcadia, and Davis Creeks) as areas within the 100-year flood plain boundaries. Approximately 708 acres (4.5% of the City's total acreage) are in the floodplain. Excluding the floodplain of the Kalamazoo River which is primarily open space with some industrial development, the greatest amount of developed land in the floodplain falls south of downtown in the vicinity of the Crosstown Parkway where Axtell Creek enters Portage Creek. The second largest developed area in the floodplain is around Arcadia Creek in downtown Kalamazoo.

The generalized soil survey for the City indicates three dominate soil types: Kalamazoo-Schoolcraft, Oshtemo-Coloma-Kalamazoo and Oshtemo-Kalamazoo-Glendora. Kalamazoo-Schoolcraft (nearly level to rolling, well drained soils), covers the western and southern portions of the City. The northeastern portion of the City is dominated by the Oshtemo-Kalamazoo-Glendora soils association which is characterized by mostly level and undulating soils. The Oshtemo-Colomo-Kalamazoo soils association, which is characterized as undulating to steep, well drained soils, makes up the remaining northeastern portion of the City.

 b. Existing Land Use Characteristics

 Residential uses cover 5,287 acres, about 33 percent of the City's land area. Nearly 80 percent of the residential land involves single-family, detached dwelling units. Public and quasi-public uses occupy the second largest land area in the City at 2,397 acres (15 percent of the total land area). Institutions such as Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College west of downtown and the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport on the southeast edge of the City account for the bulk of the public/quasi-public land areas. The third largest land area is industrial covering 1,358 acres or eight percent of the total land area. Industrial uses are focused on the traditional rail corridors with most of the industrial land area in the southeast corner of the City. With nearly 1,170 acres, parks, cemeteries and public open spaces are the fourth largest land use in the City covering seven percent of the total land area. Commercial uses are found downtown and along the major radial routes from downtown such as Main Street, Stadium Drive, Westnedge Avenue and Portage Road, about 975 acres or six percent of the total land area. The remaining land area consists of public rights-of-way (2,821 acres) and vacant land (including abandoned structures) covering 2,160 acres. The largest contiguous tracts of vacant land are found in the southwest corner of the City. Other large tracts of land on the east side of City have major development constraints. A majority of the vacant land is small lots scattered through the City.

c. Climate

Climatic conditions are typical of most southwestern Michigan communities. The City receives approximately 34.27 inches of precipitation each year. Annual snowfall averages 69.7 inches. Yearly temperatures average 72.9 (maximum) degrees in the summer and 17.4 degrees in the winter. Lake effect snow from Lake Michigan may produce additional days for winter recreation opportunities. The growing season consists of 153 days. This climate is suitable for a variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the year such as: swimming, hiking, active sports (such as football, baseball and soccer) tobogganing and sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, cross country skiing, etc.

 d. Transportation

Roads. Of particular interest, the Conrail tracks have been abandoned northwestward from downtown Kalamazoo to west of US 131 where the Kal-Haven Trail begins. Easy access is provided to and from Kalamazoo via interstate I-94, located just south of Kalamazoo's southern boundary and through the southeastern portion of the City. US 131 is located west of the City. Business Loop I-94, Business Loop US 131, Main Street, and Westnedge Avenue provide major connections through the City to the I-94 and US 131 freeways.

 Railroads. The City is serviced by two interstate carriers: The Grand Trunk Western (GTW) connecting Port Huron, Lansing and South Bend with a branch line from Pavilion Township into the City; and Conrail. Conrail provides both freight (north and south) and passenger services (east-west) linking the Detroit-Chicago network. AMTRAK Rail passenger service is available to City residents at the Intermodal Transportation Center on the north side of downtown Kalamazoo at 459 North Burdick Street.

Airports. The Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport is located 3½ miles south of Downtown Kalamazoo on Portage Road, south of I-94. Airlines that have service at the airport include: Northwest Airlines; American Eagle; Comair; Midwest Express Airlines; United Express; and US Air. The Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport offers 25 daily commercial passenger flights.

Intermodal Transportation Center. The Intermodal Transportation Center is located at 459 N. Burdick Street in downtown Kalamazoo. This location offers transportation connections between AMTRAK Rail, Greyhound and Indian Trail Buses.

Local Bus Service. The Metro Transit system carries about 5,300 passengers per day within the metropolitan area. Metro Transit fares range from $1.00 for adults to $.85 for students (6-14 years). The Metro Transit system also offers discount fares from the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for seniors, those 62 and older with a Medicare card, and passengers with disabilities. Metro Transit offers a summer discount pass for students ages 6-14, providing transit services to various recreational events and facilities.

e. Historic and Cultural Features

 Festival Playhouse - Kalamazoo College. Located at Kalamazoo College, this playhouse has three performances a year. The playhouse seats 300 and prices are $12.00 for adults and $6.00 for seniors and students.

New Vic Theater. A fixture in the Kalamazoo theater scene for 30 years, the Vic at 134 East Vine Street is host to a variety of performances from experimental to traditional, and occasional concerts. Famous for its production of "A Christmas Carol", it has sold out for 17 straight years.

 State Theater. Kalamazoo's only surviving theater of the grand era, the State at 406 South Burdick Street features a Spanish courtyard interior with moving stars and clouds projected on the ceiling. The State hosts concerts, movies, comedy, and other performers.

 Whole Art Theater & Company. Located at 246 N. Kalamazoo Mall, this innovative theater is now co-habitating with the World Tree Peace Center. The whole art theater has products that rouse the spirit, liberates the mind, and speaks to the heart. The theater, with 1,569 seats has products that rouse the spirit, liberates the mind, and speaks to the heart.

 Kalamazoo Civic Theater. The Kalamazoo Civic Theater has a worldwide reputation as a top community theater organization. The Kalamazoo Civic Theater with 506 seats presents a full season of musical and dramatic presentations located at 329 S. Park Street, in downtown Kalamazoo.

 Miller Auditorium. Located on the Western Michigan University campus, this is the premiere auditorium in southwestern Michigan for touring Broadway shows. "Les Miserables", "Cats", and other concerts and shows are held at Miller Auditorium year round. The auditorium seats 3,500 and is home to the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and WMU's School of Music.

 Kalamazoo Civic Players. Kalamazoo's own theater troupe performs plays and musicals year round. Performances are held at the Carver Center and the Civic Auditorium. The players have an offshoot of their troupe - the Civic Black and Civic Youth which perform African American and youth productions.

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) at 314 South Park Street has over 3,000 prints, photographs, paintings, sculptures, and ceramic features in its collection. The KIA places special emphasis on 20th Century American Art and German Expressionistic Art. Artists include: Rembrandt Van Rijn, Alexander Coler, and Andrew Wyeth. Hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday; 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Sunday.

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra. The 86-member resident professional orchestra will be enjoying its 75th year of success in the 1996-97 season. Led by nationally known conductor Yoshimi Takeds, the orchestra performs a full concert series at Western Michigan University's Miller Hall. The Orchestra also offers free performances in the Cities of Kalamazoo, Portage, and Parchment during the summer months.

Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum. Opened in 1979, the Air Zoo's main exhibition facility contains 43,000 sq. ft. of display space. Located at 3101 East Milham Road off Portage Road on the west side of the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, the museum exhibits almost 60 vintage aircraft in the collection, with insignia banners, aviation photographs, and art. Open year round, the museum also includes temporary exhibits, a flight simulator, flight/restoration center, and educational programs.

Kalamazoo Valley Museum. Located at 230 North Rose Street in downtown Kalamazoo, the museum opened in February of 1996. A new state-of-the-art public museum featuring a 21st century digital theater and planetarium; an inviting pre-school exhibit; simulated missions into outer space via the Challenger Center for Space Science-Education; and hands on exhibits that make science and learning fun. Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday; 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday; 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday; admission is free. A small fee is charged for special exhibits. The museum provides barrier-free access and elevators to serve all museum patrons.

Gilmore Classic Car Club of America Museums. Restored red barns are host to over 125 classic cars in the Gilmore collection. The exhibits trace the development of the American automobile. Special car shows are scheduled throughout the year. The museum is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. from May 4 - October 27. Admission fee required.

f. Colleges and Universities

 Western Michigan University. Founded in 1903, Western Michigan University (WMU) now has 130 buildings on a 455-acre campus located southwest of the downtown Kalamazoo area. WMU's enrollment exceeds 26,000 and has six-degree granting colleges which offer 242 programs including 62 masters and 22 doctoral programs. The university is a member of the Mid-American Conference.

Kalamazoo College. A nationally ranked, academic, four-year liberal arts college founded in 1833, Kalamazoo College is one of one hundred (100) oldest colleges in the nation. With an enrollment of under 1,300 students, the private institution offers 27 Bachelor of Arts programs. The school is a member of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and consistently produces competitive tennis teams, which have won seven national titles The College is located at 1200 Academy Street, west of Downtown Kalamazoo.

Kalamazoo Valley Community College - Arcadia Commons Campus. With more than 11,000 students and 100 plus full-time faculty members, Kalamazoo Valley Community College offers three different associate degrees programs and a variety of certificate programs. The campus is conveniently located at 202 N. Rose in downtown Kalamazoo, adjacent to the renovated Arcadia Creekwalk.

 Davenport Business College. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Davenport Business College provides campuses in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. The Kalamazoo campus serves more than 1,200 students and offers 15 associate degree programs, five BBA degrees and several diplomas.

Kalamazoo Public Library. The Kalamazoo Public Library is located at 121 West South Street. Its current renovation will add a third floor. The Public Library has three other branches: Eastwood, located at 1112 Gayl Avenue; Washington Square located at 1244 Portage Road; and the Powell Branch located at 1000 W. Patterson Street. All the facilities are scheduled for renovations in 1996-97 in order to meet the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and to update information systems.

g. Sports & Leisure

Kalamazoo Wings. Members of the International Hockey League since 1974, the Kalamazoo Wings are the top farm club for the NHL's Dallas Stars. The Wings play their home games at Wings Stadium, located at 3600 Van Rick Drive, easily accessible from I-94. Wings Stadium contains 5,115 reserved seats.

Kalamazoo Kodiaks. New to the Kalamazoo area, the Kodiaks are the first minor league baseball team to play in Kalamazoo in over 70 years. 1995 was the team's first season as an independent Single A club, playing in the Frontier League. The Kodiaks home is the recently constructed Sutherland Field located in the developing Edward J. Annen Sports Complex in Sutherland (Riverview) Park.

Western Michigan University. Intercollegiate athletics year round, WMU has 16 varsity sports including, basketball, football (Waldo Stadium seats 30,200.), hockey, baseball, and volleyball. The school is a member of the Mid-American conference that competes in NCAA Division I.

Kalamazoo Tornados. The Kalamazoo Tornados professional football team play their home games at the Soisson-Rapacz-Clason football/soccer field located at the Edward S. Annen Sports complex in Sutherland (Riverview) Park.

Kalamazoo Kingdom. The newly formed Kalamazoo Kingdom professional soccer team began league play in April, 1996, at the Soisson-Rapacz-Clason football/soccer field.

Kalamazoo Brewery Company. Bell's Micro brewery, a subsidiary of the Kalamazoo Brewery Company, opened in June of 1985 and is located at 355 E. Kalamazoo in downtown Kalamazoo. It is popular for it's unique tasting micro brews and tours of the brewery. The micro brewery has live entertainment on weekends; offers no menu, but encourages people to bring food in or order out. Bell's recently opened a large outside Beer Garden. Tours are given on Saturdays or other times by appointment.

 Binder Park Zoo. Located 30 minutes from downtown Kalamazoo, in Battle Creek, the zoo is a 400 acre natural habitat wild animal park. The zoo will soon be expanding to add educational areas, a 3,000 foot Michigan Wetlands, encounter trail and a 75-acre Wilds of Africa exhibit. Open daily from April to October.

Kalamazoo Mall. The City was nicknamed the "Mall City" in 1959 when Kalamazoo built the nation's first downtown pedestrian mall. The four-block long mall features shops, restaurants, and businesses. It is the site of the First of America headquarters, a five-diamond Radisson Plaza Hotel; the new Kalamazoo Valley Museum; the new downtown campus of Kalamazoo Valley Community College along with other historically renovated buildings.

4. Population and Housing Characteristics

 a. Trends and Projections

The population of Kalamazoo increased by 0.6% from 79,722 persons in the year 1980 to 80,277 persons in the year 1990, but remained below the year 1970 high of 85,555 persons (Table IX-1). According to the Upjohn Institute population projections for the year 2000, the City of Kalamazoo will incur a slight loss of its residents at 78,919. With few large tracts of land available for new major single-family detached housing subdivisions, the City of Kalamazoo has accounted for only two percent of the new single-family homes over the past 16 years in Kalamazoo County. Thus, the City of Kalamazoo faces severe constraints in attracting residential growth.

Beyond the year 2000, the population of the City is forecast to hover just under 80,000 persons through the year 2015. The largest contiguous tracts of undeveloped land fall on the west side of the City, and are presently zoned for single-family development. Regardless of the size of the undeveloped tracts, the preservation of open space and natural areas was a major concern voiced by residents at the various public meetings and forums held in the Fall of 1996.

TABLE IX-1 Total PopulationCity of Kalamazoo

b. Age and Gender Structure

 Gender. The types and location of recreation facilities and programs will depend, in part, upon the age structure and gender of the population. As of 1990 about 53% of the population of the City of Kalamazoo were females (Table IX-2). As the growth in female oriented sports such as softball, volleyball, basketball, field hockey, and gymnastics continues to grow, promoted by the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, the need for additional facilities and programs for females will have to be addressed.

TABLE IX-2 GenderCity of Kalamazoo

TABLE IX-3Population Age Structure:City of Kalamazoo

Age. The largest life phase category is "young families" (ages 25 to 44) representing 29.7% of the population in the City of Kalamazoo (Table IX-3). Children under the age of 20 represent 29.9% of the total population. The senior citizen population represents 10.9%. However, the largest five-year cohort is the 20 to 24 age group due to the Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College. In future years, the out-migration of college students and early work force groups offsets in-migration and natural increase in the population; thus there is no population growth in future years. In fact, the greatest change over time is the increase in mature families while the senior citizen population is anticipated to decline.

The age structure of the City indicates that the greatest immediate need is for recreation facilities that serve young families. This would include neighborhood parks and mini-parks to service a wide range of youth-related activities. Family-related programming and organized leagues (such as softball, soccer, and basketball) are needed to accommodate the 25-44 age group. In the future, demand for recreation facilities for mature families will increase and translate into a need for more passive park areas. There may also be increased demand for indoor activities such as physical therapy related activities, arts and crafts, square dancing, card games, bingo and aquatic activities.

c. Racial and Ethnic Composition

 The racial and ethnic composition in the City of Kalamazoo is predominantly white, with 77.3% of the population falling under this classification. However, while Kalamazoo County is 8.9 percent African-American and the City of Kalamazoo accounted for 35.9% of the County population, 75.7% of the African-American population lived in the City. Table IX-4 lists the race and ethnic breakdown for the entire community.

TABLE IX-4 Racial and Ethnic CompositionCity of Kalamazoo

d. Education

The level of educational attainment in the City of Kalamazoo is slightly lower than that for Kalamazoo County as a whole. Of the community's adult population (25 years and older) 79.6% are high school graduates and 29.8% have acquired a bachelor's degree or higher. In contrast, 83.4% of the Kalamazoo County's adult population are high school graduates, 27.1% in Kalamazoo County have obtained a bachelor's degree or higher.

 e. Employment and Income

Occupation. A substantial percentage of people are employed in white collar jobs (managerial and professional, technical sales and administrative support). The occupational characteristics of the City of Kalamazoo are similar to those of Kalamazoo County. As shown on Table IX-5, the most noticeable difference is that more people in Kalamazoo are employed in the service occupations than Kalamazoo County as a whole.

TABLE IX-5 Occupational StatusCity of Kalamazoo

Income. The household income data from the 1990 Census indicates that residents of the City of Kalamazoo earn less than Kalamazoo County residents overall. The 1989 median household income in the City of Kalamazoo was $23,207; whereas, Kalamazoo County's median household income was $31,060. The median per capita income of residents in 1989 was $11,596 for the City of Kalamazoo and $14,548 for residents of Kalamazoo County. In 1989, 64.3 percent of the families living in poverty in Kalamazoo County resided in the City of Kalamazoo and 19.3 percent of all families in the City were in poverty. Within Kalamazoo County, 91.3 percent of all African-Americans living in poverty resided in the City.

The income and occupation data can have important recreation planning implications. White collar jobs are typically more sedentary and create higher levels of stress. Active recreational opportunities for these occupations are important for maintaining good health and reducing stress. As income levels increase, residents are more likely to utilize private recreation facilities such as private golf, swimming or fitness clubs. The income data for Kalamazoo suggests that the demand for community recreation and fitness facilities may be high.

 f. Housing Characteristics

 More than 50 percent of all housing units in the City of Kalamazoo are renter-occupied (Table IX-6). Many apartment complexes and planned unit developments have recreational facilities within the complex. Summer Ridge apartments, Candlewyck and Drakes Pond are good examples of private facilities that offer indoor/outdoor pools, tennis and volleyball courts, fitness centers, and pedestrian trails. Parkview Hills, located in the southwest portion of the City, has an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, play equipment, several tennis courts, boating facilities, seven miles of pedestrian trails, basketball courts, open space (three lakes), and a community building (with exercise room, sauna, and game rooms). The availability of these private recreational facilities may reduce the need for public facilities for apartment residents. In addition, many subdivision and condominium units have private recreational facilities for residents of their neighborhood. These private facilities serves as mini-parks for nearby residents and may also reduce the need for public facilities.

TABLE IX-6 Housing Units and Occupancy City of Kalamazoo

5. Implications for Recreation Planning

a. Low and Moderate Income

 According to the 1990 Census, 26.2 percent of the people living in the City of Kalamazoo are living below the poverty level.

Figure IX-2 shows the thirty (30) Census Tracts covering the City. Four of these Census Tracts have no population (13, 14.02, 15.01 and 18.03) and Census Tract 29.03 within the City had only an estimated eight persons. Twelve (12) Census Tracts were identified as having the greatest concentrations of low to moderate income persons (Table IX-7).Figure IX-2

Census Tracts

TABLE IX-7Number of Households and Low to Moderate Income LevelsBy Census TractCity of Kalamazoo

The highest concentration of individuals living below the poverty level are related children under 18 years of age (Table IX-8). Those under 18 years of age, especially under 5 years of age, are typically less mobile than other segments of the population. Therefore, conveniently located (within 1/4 mile walking radius) recreation facilities to serve younger residents are necessary.

TABLE IX-8Poverty DataCity of Kalamazoo

Almost one (1) out of every five (5) families in the City live below the poverty level. Access to private recreation facilities by these families may be limited due to transportation needs and financial resources. Thus, families with children below the poverty level have the greatest need for safe and accessible playground facilities located within walking distance of their neighborhoods.

b. Identification of Persons with Disabilities

Approximately 1% of the City's population aged 16 to 64 years old have some type of mobility or self-care limitation (Table IX-9). In addition, 3.9% of the City's population aged 16 to 64 years old have some form of work related disability. More than thirteen percent (13.4%) of all seniors in Kalamazoo are challenged with some form of mobility and/or self-care limitation.

TABLE IX-9 Disability of Civilian Noninstitutionalized PersonsCity of Kalamazoo

Although persons with disabilities make up a small portion of the City's population, other citizens may face some form of temporary disability during their lifetime: seniors, young children, pregnant women, individuals with broken bones, and individuals using crutches.

 Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which took effect on January 26, 1992, prohibits discrimination, both intentional and unintentional, against individuals with disabilities in all programs, activities and services provided by public entities. It applies to all state and local governments, their departments and agencies and any other agencies or special purpose districts of state or local governments.

Public recreation providers must eliminate any eligibility requirements for participation in programs, activities and services that screen out, or tend to screen out, persons with disabilities, unless they can establish that the requirements are necessary for the provision of the service, program or activity due to legitimate safety requirements. Furthermore, individuals with disabilities may not be excluded from services, programs and activities because existing buildings or park facilities are inaccessible.

 In order to comply with the ADA, municipalities have the following alternatives: alteration of existing facilities, acquisition or construction of new facilities, relocation of services or programs to an accessible facility, or provision of services at accessible sites.

The implications of the ADA for Kalamazoo are significant. Parks, parking lots, pathways, picnic facilities, play grounds (equipment and surfaces), and other recreation facilities must be examined to determine if their design creates barriers that prevent use by all segments of the population. Programs must be examined, too, to be certain they provide recreation and leisure opportunities to all residents, regardless of their social, economic, or physical status.

In essence, the ADA and MDNR policies mandate that communities work toward developing "inclusive recreation programs." Inclusive recreation programs identify residents interests and needs, then address these interests and needs with facilities and programs that are not only barrier-free, but also are adaptable so that everyone can have a pleasant recreation experience together.

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