- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan city of Kalamazoo is setting aside $10 million of the $70.3 million given in local donations for aspirational, community-building projects mostly centered on addressing the cycle of poverty and uplifting youth in the city.

The Kalamazoo Gazette (https://bit.ly/2oo7kZG ) reports that urban designers, city staff and organizations throughout Kalamazoo will be answering community questions and accepting residents’ feedback Tuesday on the city’s master plan, Imagine Kalamazoo 2025.

A work session held Monday focused on Imagine Kalamazoo as well as creating neighborhood outreach and shared prosperity. It also focused on how years of work from different ongoing processes will help the City Commission choose projects to be funded through a future foundation.

Vice Mayor Don Cooney and Commissioner Shannon Sykes neighborhood projects and transportation improvements should not be as big of a priority as ending generational poverty.

“All of this work starts with ending poverty,” Sykes said. “We can spend a lot of money on making great improvements to our city than address poverty, but the problem is we (would be) displacing folks. I feel like I’m looking at a lot of spent money and I’m looking at what is left for our desire to address generational poverty.”

Cooney said a plan for Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo will guide specifically how the city plans to end poverty. But until then, he’s hesitant to fund some of the proposed projects.

City commissioners have voted to make three summer youth programs the first to receive money from the $10 million donated by various local philanthropists.

Mayor Bobby Hopewell said residents’ comments at the end of the Monday meeting show how each neighborhood will get a piece of the project.

“I want you to stay passionate and let us know what you want us to see,” Hopewell said. “There are 74,000 of you. Through this process you have to remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.”

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Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, https://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo


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