KINGSLEY — Much has changed in the village of Kingsley over the past eight years.
Village residents have a new wastewater treatment plant, water mains, a village hall and an appealing little library. Its sleepy streets are now lined with decorative lights and sidewalks that feature stamped concrete. The village also upgraded Brownson Memorial Park with a new band shell and community stage, as well as a splash pad extension for kids.
Community leaders believe it's time to capitalize on all the improvements by luring new businesses and jobs to the village tucked in the southern end of Grand Traverse County.
"We built all this infrastructure; it’s time to make ourselves available to private investment,” said Village Manager Adam Umbrasas. “We are going to let everyone know what we have here.”
In February the village contracted with the Traverse City Area Economic Development Corporation to develop an economic growth strategy. Rob Richardson is an EDC project manager and works with village officials on the strategy. Richardson sees the potential to market Kingsley as a "bedroom community with lifestyle businesses in the downtown core."
"A good restaurant, a brew pub and coffee shop," Richardson said of what Kingsley could use downtown. It also could also be a hot spot for woodworking, crafts, the arts, and value-added agriculture businesses such as distilleries, wine and beer makers.
Richardson said Kingsley has a huge recruitment tool for new families and young professionals: median housing prices that in 2013 were $77,000 cheaper than Traverse City's.
“The sense of community oozes out of everything they’ve done here,” Richardson said.
Village President Rodney Bogart is a witness to how far Kingsley has come. He said when he joined the Village Council 35 years ago, "the village was kind of a mess."
"We had no sewer system and we had a water system that was barely viable," Bogart said. "We had an old wooden water tank on top of the hill.