On Monday, November 21 the City of Allegan announced it has taken the first steps in a major overhaul of its downtown shopping area.

In a post on Facebook, the City of Allegan shared the update saying,

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The Downtown Allegan Infrastructure and Streetscape Project has begun with the removal of trees. Street trees throughout the project area (including Brady, Hubbard, and Locust streets) will be removed over the next few weeks in advance of the construction that will begin in Spring 2023...The end result will be a new Downtown Allegan core.

What Does This Mean for Allegan?

According to the city's post, plans have been in place since 2018 to develop and reconstruct the downtown Allegan landscape. In July 2022 Allegan was awarded $2 million in state funding as part of the project.

According to a press release, the Downtown Allegan Infrastructure and Streetscape Project will include,

new water and sewer mains, the removal of lead service lines, new roads, landscaping, streetlighting, wider sidewalks, traffic reconfiguration, and a new pedestrian plaza next to Minnie’s Restaurant.

That's a major undertaking! Though most of the construction is set to take place in 2023 work is now underway with the removal of the trees.

Are Trees Gone for Good?

In reaction to the city's post, many residents showed concern over the removal of the trees downtown saying:

  • "Gonna replant them trees or keep tearing the environment down?"- Bryan Newton
  • "PLEASE replant the trees!!!" - Tawny Russell Deuling
  • "How sad so many trees had to be removed" - CindyandGreg Horton

But rest assured, the trees won't be gone forever!

The City of Allegan states new trees will be planted as part of the newly designed streetscape. In fact, the trees were removed early, "due to environmental regulations regarding the Indiana Bat and its migratory patterns."

What's the Indiana Bat?

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the Indiana Bat, a.k.a. Myotis Sodalis, is a small, insectivorous bat found primarily in the midwestern states. The bat is named after the Hoosier state because "the first specimen described to science in 1928 was based on a specimen found in southern Indiana’s Wyandotte Cave."

Currently listed as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, the Indiana Bat population has declined 19% since 2007. It sounds as if the removal of the trees in Allegan coincides with efforts to repopulate the Indiana Bat population in nearby states.

As someone who grew up and currently lives in Allegan, I am not looking forward to all the headaches the 2023 construction project will bring with it but I'm hopeful the efforts will lead to a re-energized downtown gathering space. Only time will tell!

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