The Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors® a received a $2,600 Placemaking micro-grant from the National Association of Realtors® and added $400 to it to provide a $3,000 grant to help make Stone Lake in Cassopolis a better place to live and work by transforming public spaces into vibrant community places. The grant is intended to help Realtor Associations partner with others to plan, organize, implement and maintain placemaking activities in their communities.

The Stone Lake Seating project will be located on the eastern shore of the lake adjacent to the Log Cabin Park and just below the bluff level pavilion. The current location is used for fishing and swimming but does not have amenities such as seating for encouraging it as a gathering place for the Village residents and visitors. The project plans to add permeant seating, outdoor cooking fixtures, fire pits and trash receptacles to make the area inviting for families, the community and visitors to enjoy year round. Lighting fixtures will be added to the underside of the pavilion so the area will be well lighted for evening use. The grant funds will be used to purchase material to create the seating area.

Benjamin Anderson, President, Village of Cassopolis Main Street Association, described the project, “The Stone Lake Seating Area will attract community members by transforming a place with no vibrancy into an attractive and enticing space where friends can sit to watch sunsets and families can gather to enjoy cook outs and picnics on the lake. It will be an area for parents to sit and visit with each other while watching children swim or fish in the beautiful Stone Lake water. The proximity of Stone Lake Seating Area to our downtown will lend itself to creating a positive economic impact for our businesses as well as offering an enjoyable space for downtown shoppers and visitors to take a break. Access will be available by car and on foot. Parking will be available at the Log Cabin Pioneer Museum parking lot and there is a walking trail north of the proposed seating area that leads to our downtown and area sidewalks.”

The project is expected to be implemented in 2016 with the hope of being partially finished for the local Christmas celebrations and totally completed by April 2017.

Wendy Grover, Cressy and Everett Real Estate, was the Realtor sponsor for the Stone Lake Seating Area grant. Grover explained the reason for her endorsement, “I grew up on a lake and my love of lake living has helped me be successful in selling homes in and around lake areas like Stone Lake. Enjoying lake related activities and the opportunity to participate in adding a vibrant area for many people to use is exciting. I am really looking forward to seeing the completed project.”

“Realtors® live, work and volunteer in their communities and take immense pride in working to improve them,” said Paul Dumke, President, Southwestern Michigan Association of Realtors®, Inc. “Placemaking can help foster healthier, more social and economically viable communities. It creates places where people feel a strong stake in their neighborhoods and are committed to making things better. This grant will allow us to address areas in our communities that are in need of improvement or redevelopment and create a place where friends and neighbors can come together.”

Placemaking grants are awarded to local and state Realtor® associations to help them and their members initiate placemaking projects in the community, like turning a parking lot into a farmer’s market or a vacant lot into a playground. Realtor® associations and their Realtor® members are actively engaged in the community and know the neighborhoods and the properties that would benefit most from these improvement efforts.

“As the Stone Lake area becomes more attractive and welcoming, nearby properties may also increase in value,” stated Dumke.                                                          


The Southwestern Michigan Association of REALTORS®, Inc. is a professional trade association for real estate licensees and ancillary service providers for the real estate industry in Van Buren, Berrien and Cass counties.  The Association is located at 3123 Lake Shore Drive St. Joseph, MI 49085, (269) 983.6375.  They can also be contacted through their web site, www.swmar.com.