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Charlevoix to vote between new park or more housing on November ballot

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Local leaders in the City of Charlevoix launched a new campaign this week to urge voters to support using vacant land to build more housing rather than a new park.

Residents will vote on the issue in the upcoming November 7th election. The housing proposal aims to address the city’s shortage of housing for full-time residents.

Luther Kurtz, the former mayor of Charlevoix, is helping to lead the campaign. He said the lack of year-round housing has negatively impacted the community’s economy.

“Basically, no one can hire anybody in Charlevoix, because anybody they hire has to find a place to live and there's nowhere for them to live. There's no housing for year-round people,” he said.

According to a report from Housing North, only 40% of homes in Charlevoix are available for use by full-time residents. And in order to meet the current housing demand in the area, over 1,600 homes and 730 rental units would need to be built in the city.

If voters choose to turn the vacant property into a park, coalition advocates estimate the city could lose roughly $2 million of lost income from the property sale and the cost of turning it into a passive park without public amenities.

According to the city’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan, Charlevoix has more parks compared to other communities its size in the region–roughly 135 acres of park per capita.

Kurtz said the community’s need for year-round housing outweighs the need for another park.

“There's a park right next door, we don't need another park there. We love parks, but we need people that are going to play in them and have kids that are going to play in them. And if we don't have housing, the people aren't going to be here anymore,” he said.

Kurtz says the campaign already has strong community support, and is confident they will show up to the polls this November.

Renae is a newsroom intern covering northwest Lower Michigan for WCMU.