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Neighbors speak out against Northwestern Michigan College’s plans to develop property

TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College is working on their 10-year master plan, which includes looking at what they can do with a 55-acre plot of land that’s located close to the school.

The college is thinking about developing the property, but some people in the neighborhood concerned with that idea have started a group to oppose it. The group, called ‘Neighbors for Nature’ said the land should be environmentally protected.

Kim Grabowski, a member of the group, said they’re also calling for more transparency from the school.


“We are willing to work with them. We would like them to get community involvement. It is a community college, and we would like more community input. But at this point, it feels like they’re just checking off boxes and saying, ‘Yep, we’ve had those meetings. Yep. We’ve done a survey,’” said Grabowski.

Grabowski said the land is filled with nature, wetlands and trails. She said they feel the property that neighbors and students have been able to enjoy should stay in its natural state.

“Our main concern is to just get awareness about the land and then to get transparency from NMC, and just to have, instead of a knee jerk reaction to the use of the land, to have [them] think about the future of the land,” said Grabowski.

The group said many ideas have been thrown around including building a parking lot, a senior center, faculty housing or dorms. They said it’s concerning that many ideas have been discussed but no information on definite plans.


Troy Kierczynski, vice president of finance and administrative services, said it’s too soon in the process. They’re just sharing potential ideas and the reasons behind those ideas.

“Maybe they’re sensing a lack of transparency because we truly don’t know and haven’t formalized any plans for the property,” said Kierczynski.

Kierczynski said the master plan is a strategic vision and if this property was developed it would be at the tail-end of those ten years.

“Almost all the ideas we’ve had surround something to do with housing and maybe mixing it in with educational opportunities,” said Kierczynski.


Grabowski said with enrollment down at the college, they don’t understand the need for more housing, but the school says even with the gradual decline over the past decade, there’s still a housing shortage in Traverse City.

“We have the highest level of demand we’ve ever seen for housing,” said Kierczynski.

The group hopes that the college will consider keeping part of that land preserved; the school says that is an option.

“Over 30 acres of the property is being looked at as a spot to preserve and keep that natural, beautiful characteristic of the property,” said Kierczynski.


The college said nothing is definite yet but for other neighbors like Beth Balentine, they just want to be included in the process.

“Nobody asked me for a survey, and I’ve lived here for three years. I really just want to partner with them. The lack of transparency builds mistrust,” said Balentine.

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