Members of City Council and representatives from the Tri-Cities Historical Museum, the current occupants of the depot, recently conducted a visioning session with engineers from Progressive AE to generate concepts for the old train station’s uses.
"The idea was, through visioning, consider what the purposes of the stadium with the depot might be," Progressive AE engineer Jim Horman said.
During the City Council’s work session Monday night, Horman presented key findings from the visioning session.
“(The study) is really speaking to the best use of the depot for the general public for a year-round venue for an event space,” he told city officials. “We have a bulleted list of outcomes for consideration.”
This list shows how the depot could be both tied into the new Lynne Sherwood Waterfront Stadium and how it could be used as a community venue.
"This would be a year-round venue that is appropriately located downtown — right in the heart of it all," Horman said.
In addition to being incorporated into the redesigned stadium, the depot would also be:
— Utilized for assembly gathering space in lieu of its current use as a museum.
— Designed as an event venue that both supports and enhances the stadium experience.
— Considered as a box suite for stadium events and counted toward the total stadium seating count.
— Considered for year-round general public use as an event venue for rent.
— Deemed a historic Grand Haven treasure and architecturally respected for the preservation of local history.
— Considered for continued display of transportation artifacts or technology.
— Physically added on to in size for support spaces, basement space and stadium event viewing space.
— Connected to a small, private outdoor space used for cooking/grilling by vendors.
"It leverages the asset that is already there and gives it another dimension for rental purposes," Horman noted.
Mayor Geri McCaleb said there could be some benefit to the proposals for the depot.
“Opening it up to more use is a great advantage to the community and the stadium,” she said.
McCaleb noted, however, that she wants any changes to strike a balance between the facility as it exists now and what the vision is for the future, as well as maintain the historical integrity of the facility.
City officials say the Waterfront Stadium project is slated to get started later this year.
“The designs that you’ve seen are approved, and (City Council is) going to begin putting construction documents together for the phase from the water to the top row of seating,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said. “That is going to happen just after Labor Day.”
City Council last year approved conceptual plans for the stadium revamp. The new design will replace the stadium-style bleacher setup with tiered seating built into the landscape, a new band shell and stage, a waterfront lawn area for additional seating, space for volleyball and seasonal recreation, winter fire pits, restroom and dressing room facilities, and various sculptural and decorative elements.
McGinnis said City Council would likely approach the stadium and depot projects as two separate phases in order to keep the ball rolling on the stadium redevelopment, while at the same time giving any proposed changes to the depot their due diligence.
“City Council wants to get a much closer look at the conceptual drawings so they have a better idea of what’s being proposed before they give that the green light,” McGinnis said of the depot.