What are we doing to reach out to the African-American and Potawatomi communities with regard to the river plans? There is a large amount of history to tell regarding that location.
If the channelization of the river is reversed, and that area is turned back to natural flow, how can we restore good faith and have reparations for black and poor people who were originally displaced?
(Multiple, similar questions are grouped together.)
We are doing our best to engage all stakeholders around that, and there are still many conversations we must have. We have to remember that the concrete channels were put in for a reason – so the downtown won’t flood. The Army Corps of Engineers is now telling us that the channels are nearing the end of their life – so what do we do? We have learned there is a potential that widening the river would help. If we do that, there is a possibility we could shift Dickman Road, which travels along the river. These are the conversations we are having.
We need to make sure we understand the expectations of the Battle Creek neighbors impacted in Battle Creek, and understand the history. There is a lot of history there that not all of us have experienced. We are taking the time to understand the history of The Bottoms, and we appreciate the awareness these questions raise about engagement with our community. We do not have the full answer today, but this project will emphasize engagement, and these are important conversations that we will have.
If we are able to remove the concrete channels, and connect neighbors to the river and the downtown, we can create a positive impact going forward.