During the midst of construction season in Albion, one project that may have gone unnoticed has been completed: Cass Street and the north sidewalk has been paved and is now providing a safe walk for students to downtown Albion.
While the new road goes from the edge of campus to Superior Street, the city of Albion and Albion College came together and partnered to make a change in the Albion community.
“We have a great relationship with the city,” said Jerry White, vice president of finance and administration. “We told them we were interested in doing that portion of the road because we thought it needed to be done, and in true partnership form, they said if we did that, they’d pay for the part between the railroad tracks and Superior Street.”
The paving of Cass Street comes less than two years after Judy and Michael Harrington gave a gift to Albion College for homes around Cass Street to be renovated for faculty and staff housing. By bringing faculty closer to students, White hopes that this will cause greater student and faculty interaction.
“This is yet another step to make that a more attractive place to live and to allow faculty to live in the neighborhood,” he explained. “When students walk back and forth, they might see one professor sitting out on the porch and be able to have, as Mauri says, ‘serendipitous conversations.’”
According to White, the road construction was put into motion about two years ago. As construction began in the downtown area, White knew the College had to move quickly to get it done. The project was completed about two weeks ago, and students now have a safe avenue to get to downtown, to the Bohm, to Cascarelli’s and the Ludington Center.
Albion College’s campus is generally well-lit at night with sidewalk lights on the Quad. That style of lighting now extends down Cass Street.The sidewalk is lined with lights that point directly down so people can easily see where they are walking and so sleeping residents won’t be disturbed.
“They’re not streetlights, but sidewalk lights to make people feel safe walking downtown. We did it not only for the student safety point of view but also the Harrington neighborhood,” said White.
Construction in Albion has become the norm. Starting with the repaving of Hannah Street a in September 2014, roads and buildings in the city of Albion are continuing to improve. According to Don Masternak, director of facilities for Albion College, combining the efforts of the city and the college is necessary to continue the improvement of the city of Albion.
“Since all of the streets belong to the public, the college’s participation benefits the entire community in having better streets, an improved image and availability for those other funding sources to be used elsewhere in town,” said Masternak via email.
As downtown Albion begins to obtain new businesses and restaurants, Masternak hopes the more attractive surroundings and infrastructure of the streets create a welcoming environment. With more decorative signposts and landscaping, property value should be rising over the next few years.
“With a well-maintained setting and renovated homes, the hope is that property values will increase, along with the stability of the community,” said Masternak. “This is an ongoing effort that we can all be proud of, and it is exciting to see the transformation unfold.”
Photos by Steve Marowski