Culver Kiwanians weigh in on Culver priorities via comp plan

As part of the ongoing effort to include the entire community in the process of creating a new comprehensive plan for Culver, the plan was brought to members of Culver's Kiwanis Club in hopes of soliciting input from those who didn't make it to the public meetings held last month.

The discussion and information gathering was led by Ralph Winters, who called the comprehensive plan -- which is being handled by Chicago-based consulting firm Houseal Lavigne -- "a blueprint for the next ten years" in Culver. As in prior public meetings, attendees were initially asked to identify five issues or concerns confronting the town of Culver.
As was the case with public meetings, affordable housing within Culver

rose to the surface as an oft-repeated concern. Related concerns included identifying developable land for new housing and the need for condominium-style housing -- though not necessarily on the lake or golf course -- for seniors and retirees, and drawing younger families to the area. Retention of local youth was also discussed, in addition to activities and destinations for local teens.

Also raised were concerns about infrastructure, the need to solicit more industry to the area, support of local businesses, the relocation of Culver's local historical museum from the library to a new home, management of the town park, the need for a movie theater, and support of civic organizations. It was suggested assisted living care be an added amenity to Miller's Merry Manor nursing home in Culver.

The matter of declining public school enrollment led to more in-depth discussion of Culver Community Schools, as well as the inter-related nature of the already-mentioned issues. Affordable housing, for example, affects the school population, and many teachers at both the public school and Culver Academies choose to live either outside of town or in other nearby towns due to the cost of housing in Culver proper.

The concern was raised that, if trends in housing and state funding don't change, Culver could be without a public school in a decade or so. It was suggested that, in light of the state's current approach to public education, which tends to favor a more competitive, business-derived model, Culver's school system may need to come up with creative means of making itself attractive to potential students and their families, and that community partnerships towards such ideas might benefit the school.

"We've seen here (that each issue) intertwines," said Winters, who wrote down participants' responses. "There's no one thing and no magic bullet."

He also pointed out there's a variance in notions as to what constitutes "affordable" housing, given that some who work here make $10 to $15 per hour.

It was noted Culver Academies owns around 75 units to rent to its faculty and staff, which number in the hundreds, and that many of the other homes rented out privately by their owners in Culver are only available by the week or weekend between Memorial and Labor Days.

More public meetings towards the comprehensive plan are slated for the summertime months to maximize participation from all aspects of the community. Extensive documentation and opportunities to interact regarding the plan are available on the town of Culver website at www.townofculver.org.