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Kalamazoo's Very Big Photo Album

Andy Robins

There are about 24,000 buildings in Kalamazoo, some of them historic. The city hopes to document most of them with photographs in 2021.

Sharon Ferraro is the city's historic preservation coordinator. She says the project, called "Inventory Kalamazoo 2022," will make development and planning a lot easier.

"If you think of it as an inventory, you're really right on the money because, before you can really make plans about a lot of different things, you need to know what you've already got."

The city will hold a vitual town hall meeting on Thursday, April 1, at 6 p.m. on the historical survey in the Edison neighborhood. It's being handled by Kraemer Design Group, a Detroit-based consultant, through a state grant. Ferraro says the state historic preservation office picked Edison for this part of the project because it still has some original features like boulevards and stone-lined gutters.

Ferraro says the survey, the first since 2001, will come in handy when the city needs to make changes.

Credit City of Kalamazoo
City of Kalamazoo
A former celery barn in Kalamazoo's Edison neighborhood

"This inventory will be a tool that will allow us to do some decision-making, take that into account when we're talking about things like road widening, new construction, just about anything we do in the city, we'd be able to take into account the historic buildings as well."

While the consultant is handling the Edison neighborhood, buildings in the rest of Kalamazoo will be covered with help from volunteers. Ferraro says they'll be given a free app for their phones.

"And what we need people to do is get an assignment, take a couple of hours, walk down the street, take pictures of your neighbors' houses, or maybe go visit another neighborhood you're not as familiar with, and just take pictures of the houses. And then all of that's uploaded into the cloud and then we analyze it later."

Ferraro says the city won't photograph buildings if their owners don't want that. And she says all of the survey will be conducted from public spaces like sidewalks.

The Edison survey town hall meeting will be streamed live on the city's Facebook and YouTube pages.

Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.