Square 1: Coming Together at City Center
Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park provides a symbolic center for Benton Harbor, serving as a public green and community gathering space right on Main Street in the heart of downtown. The current configuration of the park limits its functionality and appeal, however. The layout of the park includes a parking lot and alley that are remnants of the commercial buildings that formerly stood there, rather than features designed for park use, concerts, the farmers market, and other events.
In 2015, the City of Benton Harbor requested technical assistance through the PlacePlans program to lead an inclusive community engagement process, resulting in a new concept plan for the park’s physical layout.
The final concept for Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park supports the vision of the community for a park that brings people together from all parts of Benton Harbor. The concept arises from the input of hundreds of community members over the course of an eight-month-long public design process. Their vision for an attractive space that welcomes people in year-round drove development of the plans, which tie together the civic infrastructure of City Hall and the Benton Harbor Public Library, the Arts District, and the business district along Main Street.
The plan also lays out a strategy of policy updates, funding opportunities, and ongoing engagement and programming that can move the concept towards reality. While the conceptual design is ambitious and will require an ongoing commitment over some years to be fully implemented, the City of Benton Harbor, the Benton Harbor Parks and Recreation Conservancy, and their partners throughout the community can pursue some of these steps immediately.
Benton Harbor was one of seven communities chosen to receive technical placemaking assistance through the 2015 PlacePlans program. PlacePlans is a collaboration of the Michigan Municipal League and the MSU School of Planning, Design, and Construction, and is funded by MSHDA.
In the news!
How Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park came into existence – Jan. 18, 2016, The Herald Palladium
Finding funds for Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park – Oct. 23, 2015, The Herald Palladium
Gathering Thursday to see plans for Dwight Pete Mitchell City Center Park – October 20, 2015, WSJM-FM
Residents get a look at possible improvements to BH park – August 19, WSJM FM 94.9
BH planning session draws crowd – August 19, 2015, The Herald Palladium
Big ideas for City Center Park – June 17, 2015, The Herald Palladium
Plans unveiled for Benton Harbor’s City Center Park – June 17, 2015, WNDU TV 16
Benton Harbor Park could get makeover – June 16, 2015, WSBT TV 22
Blueprints for a lively, popular park – April 1, 2015, The Herald Palladium
Coming Together at City Center – April 1, 2015, Moody on the Market
Benton Harbor, Niles get help with parks ideas – Feb. 4, 2015, The Herald Palladium
Cities to receive economic development assistance – Feb. 9, 2015, The Leader
Niles and Benton Harbor receive PlacePlans assistance for downtown development plans – Feb. 4, 2015, TV 13 News
Niles, Benton Harbor to get help with key development projects – Feb. 5, 2015, WNDU TV 16
Benton Harbor among seven communities selected for PlacePlans Work – Feb. 6, 2015, Miplace.org