Executive Editor Alek Haak-Frost writes, “Neighborhood skateparks, basketball courts, and open grass with no entry fees are paramount for low-income residents, and with Tuesday’s decision to approve the allocation of $17,000 to extend the Memory Isle basketball court from a half court to a full court, as well as the installation of a second hoop, the city commission chose to invest in an incredibly important and underserved demographic within our community.”

The Three Rivers City Commission Tuesday held the first of two scheduled public hearings to discuss proposed amendments to the city code that would allow marijuana facilities within city limits as special exception uses, and get further public input on the matter. Following a lengthy discussion and public comments from a handful of citizens, a thin majority of commissioners expressed support for the proposed changes.

Following a lengthy discussion Tuesday, Three Rivers City Commissioners set the first of what is expected to be at least two public hearings on amendments to the city code that would allow marijuana facilities within city limits as special exception uses. Commissioners had previously discussed the possibility of presenting the proposed amendments and ordinance language to the citizens of Three Rivers on a future ballot but according to Mayor Tom Lowry, City Attorney J. Patrick O’Malley determined it wasn’t possible from a legal standpoint.

The Three Rivers City Commission discussed the possibility Tuesday of an amendment to the city code that would allow marijuana facilities within city limits as special exception uses, and presenting those changes to the citizens of Three Rivers on a future ballot. Ultimately commissoners tabled the issue until its next meeting where City Attorney J. Patrick O’Malley is expected to present a legal opinion on how exactly the commission would do that.

The Three Rivers Promise (TRP) Board announced a public campaign Monday to fund an endowment to support graduates of Three Rivers High School in furthering their education. The goal of the Promise is to provide every graduate of Three Rivers High School with a scholarship toward tuition and mandatory fees for post-secondary education at Michigan public colleges and vocational schools.

Members of the Three Rivers City Commission on Tuesday approved a new “Main Street Commons” district in downtown Three Rivers. The vote allows next steps to move forward for a proposed, designated section of downtown Three Rivers, in which outdoor consumption of alcoholic beverages would be permitted. Such districts are possible under recent, new rules authorized by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). These rules, which are to be in effect for five years at the state level, are meant to provide businesses more service options amid pandemic-related restrictions on indoor occupancy.

Three Rivers City Commissioners Clayton Lyczynski and Alison Haigh questioned whether Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority Chair Andrew George should be reappointed during Tuesday’s commission meeting. Lyczynski cited George’s involvement in a suit filed against the city concerning a petition to place a marijuana ordinance on last November’s ballot, questioning George’s “integrity” and “desire to do what’s best for the city.”

Following a regular meeting of the Three Rivers City Commission Tuesday night, representatives of several city boards and staffs held a joint meeting and presentation on current planning and development activities in the city. The meeting is required going forward as part of something called the Redevelopment Ready Communities process (RRC), which is a program of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). The RRC process is designed to help municipalities around the state improve their processes, laws, and planning documents to better facilitate and manage development.

During the City of Three Rivers’ annual Organizational Meeting Monday evening, City Commissioners approved a measure to sell the former Carnegie Library building to the Carnegie Center for the Arts (CCA) and to excuse the Three Rivers Woman’s Club (TRWC) from any remaining obligations regarding its current lease of the building. Mayor Tom Lowry cast a “no” vote for the sale.

Three Rivers Health (TRH) has signed a letter of intent to join northern Indiana-based Beacon Health System. Pending final approvals, the agreement would take effect in the spring of 2021. In a press release Tuesday, TRH said the new partnership “will provide expanded access to care across our region.” TRH operates a 60-bed hospital in Three Rivers serving St. Joseph County, Kalamazoo County, and surrounding areas.

On behalf of American Axle and Manufacturing (AAM), the City of Three Rivers will be applying for a grant to help fund an expansion project at the company’s Three Rivers plant. At a regular meeting of the Three Rivers City Commission Monday, commissioners approved the measure after a public hearing. In cooperation with Southwest Michigan First (SWMF), which is helping coordinate the project, the city will be applying for a Federally-funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Commissioners also improved changes to zoning language that will permit multiple single-family homes per parcel of land in R4 residential districts.