Early Plans for Water Trail Improvements in the Harbor Get the Green Light

Following an earlier green light from the St. Joseph City Commission, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners delivered the necessary approvals today for Cornerstone Alliance and the team at Berrien County Community Development to submit grant applications that would provide great new public infrastructure to the local harbor front.

Having gained approval on all counts from the necessary entities involved, the next step is to file applications for the grant to advance the plans.

The County Board saw a team presentation from Berrien County Community Development and Cornerstone Alliance on the impact of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program grant. The commission immediately followed with approval of the request to apply for the grant in a unanimous vote.

The DNR Waterways Program grant provides funding for design and construction of infrastructure that creates new public recreational access at four locations in the St. Joseph River. The Berrien County Community Development group will apply for the DNR Waterways grant for infrastructure upgrades along the St. Joseph River, while Cornerstone Alliance will provide matching funds required for the grant application, up to $150,000.

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Dan Fette, Community Development Director for Berrien County notes, “Berrien County is happy to lead this effort and to partner with Cornerstone Alliance. The outcome of this grant will provide new recreational possibilities for local residents as well as visitors to St. Joseph and Benton Harbor areas." Fette adds, "It will also allow any of the Berrien County communities upriver to install kayak launches and create a unique water trail experience. This grant application, along with the CZM grant that was submitted in December, is another example of our local governments and community organizations working together to improve the quality of life in our region.”

If the grant is funded, a total of four sites along the St. Joseph River will be constructed. The sites will host bike racks, a kayak launch, and allow for multi-modal transportation along the waterway, including such possibilities as a water taxi. Further detail on all four sites will be distributed by way of the Cornerstone Alliance Facebook page in the coming days. This infrastructure maximizes use of the area’s greatest natural resource in order to improve mobility, placemaking, business growth and community health -- the waterfront.

The project was unanimously approved by the St. Joseph City Commission on February 11th. As a result, Berrien County Community Development and Cornerstone Alliance will submit the grant application before the deadline of ​April 1st, 2019, and -- if approved -- announcement of award will be made by June 2019.