Downtown Building 402 proposed to get renovation soon

Mason’s historical downtown square is expecting a new addition, starting later this year. Although the proposal hasn’t been approved yet, The Building 402 Project is set to start construction in the summer of 2018. The project is the renovation of Building 402 of South Jefferson Street, which was previously The Baja Grille. The Baja Grille closed its doors after an electrical fire in June of 2015, according to the Lansing State Journal. Teresa Wren is the owner of Building 402 and Kean’s Store Company.

Mason’s 35th Annual Spring Fling Festival benefits businesses and the community

Although spring weather seems distant after this week’s snow, Mason’s 35th annual Spring Fling Festival is exactly a month away. The Spring Fling Festival is a four-day event held in Mason’s downtown courthouse square with the main event held on Saturday May 5, according to the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce. The Saturday event is the 35th annual Spring Fling Courthouse Show which takes places on the lawn of the Ingham County Courthouse. The show features food vendors, arts and crafts and community groups according to the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce newsletter, “Mason in Motion.”

Mason is known for its collection of festivals and different community events throughout the year. These events encourage positive business growth and foot traffic in the Mason area, according to Mason Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Douglas Klein.

Mason’s population moves toward becoming younger, more diverse

As a predominately white, older and wealthier community, one wouldn’t expect the rural town of Mason to be very diverse. However, the community is moving in a more diverse direction, according to resident Erica Earls. “I think Mason is slowly getting there, but it’d be nice if we could expedite that process,” said Earls. As of 2010, 21.7 percent of Mason residents were from the ages of 20-34 and 92.4 percent identified themselves as Caucasian, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Having diversity within a community depends on a lot of factors, according to Michigan State University’s Professor of Urban & Regional Planning and Director of MSUE Urban Collaborators, Zenia Kotval.

Mason residents getting behind local food movement

For Mason resident Alana Anderson, buying groceries locally is important for the health and safety of her and her family. “I like to support local businesses and local farmers. I also think it’s good for us health wise to have products that are within our communities. I like to buy local produce as much as possible and local meats. I feel it’s safer and healthier for me,” said Anderson.

Mason experiences flooding at its wastewater treatment plant

On Monday March 12, Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster and opened the Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund to local governments in 17 counties after heavy rainfall and snow melt on Feb. 19-21 resulted in widespread flooding damage, according to Michigan.gov.

Among the affected areas was Ingham county. Those areas included the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, multiple townships, and Mason. Although Mason seemed to have experienced relatively minimal damage with flooding compared to Lansing and East Lansing, Mason did run into some trouble with flooding of its wastewater treatment plant. After the floods of February 19-21, the Mason city clerk, Sarah Jarvis, put out a public notice saying that Mason’s Water Treatment Plant experienced some flooding of partially treated wastewater.

Mason’s unique location and community-centric feel attracts new residents

The town of Mason, with its unique location and historical town square, attracts new residents for a variety of reasons. As of 2016, Mason’s population was estimated to be 8,395 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The population grew 1.7 percent since the last Census in 2010. Other than its unique location and downtown area, City Administrator Deborah Stuart believes it is the focus on community that brings new residents to Mason. “I think the folks that come to Mason are really looking for that small town feel and a connection to their community,” said Stuart. In the past decade alone, nearly 700 housing units have been added to the housing inventory, according to the city of Mason’s website. “One of things that I think Mason does better than a lot of other communities is that the community is committed to success.

Mason lacks variety in restaurant choices, some say

There is one common complaint that residents typically have about small towns; there aren’t enough restaurants. Like most small towns, Mason seems to fit into that stereotype, according to residents. Some of the restaurants in Mason include Mason Depot Diner, City Limits, Los Tres Amigos, Darb’s Tavern and Eatery and The Vault Delicatessen.

Aside from the occasional fast food joint in Mason, most of the restaurants are small businesses and locally-owned. Despite Mason’s emphasis on locally-owned eats, some residents have a hard time finding variety, such as one resident of Mason for six years, Angela Izzo. “On a day-to-day basis I guess it doesn’t really affect me because we’re not trying to eat out every day, but when we do want to go out to eat, a lot of times it means we need to leave Mason to eat,” said Izzo.

Mason public elementary schools struggle with overcrowding

Mason public elementary schools are experiencing higher enrollment now than ever before. The high enrollment has led to overcrowding and lack of learning space in Mason’s elementary schools. The school district saw a five percent growth in resident K-12 student count from 2010-2015, according to MI School Data. This increase in enrollment might have to do with the steady population increase of Mason in the last few years. Ronald Drzewicki, the superintendent of Mason Public Schools for four years now, said that the new growth could be a result of a new community development on the west side of town, Columbia Lakes.