Often times the key question from many people who just pull into town is... “where’s the lake?? For more than 5 years the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) had wrestled with a design to answer that question for anybody who happens to visit the area and not be able to find it without asking the question. That design for a new wayfinding sign system was finally agreed upon in 2014 taking into account the Village Logo and the iconic symbol for Grass Lake Community Schools sports teams; The Spear.
It doesn’t really matter what team one may support, this community simply gathers around and supports all of its sports teams in a unified fashion so the final design of the Wayfinding System reflects on that dedication to incorporate the schools and its sports teams, while at the same time highlighting the combination of school colors in the Village Logo and adding the Warrior Spear as the arrow on all the signs. While the DDA Board worked through a number of different designs, the color combination promoted both the Village and school sports, and, at the same time, set the signs out against the backdrop of all the green that tends to develop in the Spring with all the new leaves that fill the trees. Similarly, having looked at a number of signs used in a number of different communities, it was apparent that the signs needed a design that would stand out and be easily readable in the dark of night. Thus, the white reflective lettering of the Village Logo served well for the lettering and a little more white was added to the spears to maintain that continuity.
There are roughly 22 new signs in the system which highlight the directions to official offices, parking lots, directions to Grass Lake Community Schools and its buildings, and ultimately, to the various community locations within and without the community, with appendage signs above the main sign, similar to the “Senior Center” sign in the picture at left.
Overall, the new wayfinding system has garnered positive reviews in that they project a more positive image of the community as a whole, and certainly point out a central point of pride in the community…..the support it puts behind its school system and its sports teams. Finally, the new system and its continuity of color scheme helps to improve the overall look of the community by helping to remove all the tacky looking, multi-colored, multi-sized, non-uniform signs that have been taken down with the new sign installations. The new sign system went up in phases over 2014 and 2015, with the continuing desire into the next few years with the highlighting of the different parks and a final “Welcome to Grass Lake” entry sign to go up at Union Street and Michigan Avenue where the plain white board now stands. Again, another tacky looking posting board will be coming down!!
Parking has long been a problem in the downtown of the Village of Grass Lake since the main route through town, Michigan Avenue, is so close to the railroad line that passes through town. Subsequently, that puts the main street buildings on the north side of Michigan Avenue so close to the railroad, that little space is available for employee or customer parking.
To that end, the Downtown Development Authority has focused its attention on parking organization and the walk ability of downtown with each project that it has undertaken, not to mention safety in all modes of traversing the Village. In many cases, the Village itself didn’t own any property for the expansion of parking spaces, however, organization of the spaces available helped to create additional spaces on existing streets. That organization often represented switching from parallel parking to angle parking where space was available, widening of streets in areas where parallel parking could be switched, and purchasing property to accommodate parking behind downtown buildings on the south side of Michigan Avenue.
One of the projects that the DDA was able to get completed in the summer of 2012 is an area of parking behind the buildings on the south side of Michigan Avenue (at left) to accommodate an additional 15 parking spaces in downtown. That project organized what approximately about 20 to 25 spaces into 40 spaces, placed several feet of drain line to control runoff, and provided some landscaping and lighting to an area that provides little attraction to the back entryways of the buildings on that side of the street. Once completed, the project enhanced the area to make the back door entryways to the stores much more attractive and safe, and organized the existing parking to accommodate parking for apartment projects planned for the upper levels of several of the buildings on that side of the street.