Old Town gives to local schools

Old Town restaurants and shops are raising money for local schools in a project called Shop 4 Schools. On Nov. 18, participating retailers in the neighborhood gave 18 percent of customers check-out total to participating schools in the area. Lynn Ross, owner of Mother & Earth Baby Boutique, organized this event based on a similar fundraiser the city of Grand Haven does, where they raised almost $10,000 last year. “A lot of local, small local businesses, don’t have the means to be able to donate items to silent auctions or monetary donations,” Ross said.

Old Town looking for new board member

There is an open seat in Old Town’s board committee and board members are actively looking for potential candidates. They are also accepting applications from those interested in the position. The board has been around since 1996 and oversees what the Old Town Commercial Association does, said Jamie Schriner, the board president. “We’re responsible for the money and making sure that everything is being handled the way it should be and for raising money for the organization,” Schriner said. The board decides anything from finances to hiring the executive director, said vice president Rick Preuss, owner of Preuss Pets.

Old Town: a neighborhood of uniqueness

A cozy feel, one-of-a-kind shops, gourmet food, and everything artsy: that’s the definition of Old Town for residents and visitors. “It’s very different from what you’d find in the Greater Lansing area where it’s mostly restaurant-based where we’re more boutique-based,” said Kathy Holcomb, owner of the Absolute Gallery. Old Town which was founded in 1825 when a surveying crew plotted and charted the land, holds several historic buildings and history deep in its concrete. By the late 20th century, the neighborhood hit hard times and buildings were left abandoned. Dedicated and determined people wouldn’t stand for the decay of the neighborhood so they worked to rebuild it and make it better, according to the Old Town website.

Old Town lofts attract new residents

There are perks of living in a loft rather than a house or apartment like no outside maintenance and being in the center of downtown. Old Town lofts are high in demand and don’t stay on the market very long, said Brian Huggler, realtor and owner of buildings in Old Town. “We’ve had zero vacancy in the past ten years. In fact, when one person moves out, usually they’ve got a friend that wants to move in,” Huggler said. With loft living, you get a different lifestyle than you would in a house or other form of living.

Old Town workers talk about Election Day

Old Town residents and workers share their thoughts on important issues this Election Day. They also talk about the race between Andy Schor and Judi Brown Clarke for Lansing mayor. https://youtu.be/iQrSI_im2pI


Michigan roads affect Old Town

Every Michigander knows that roads in the state aren’t the best and Old Town residents have experienced that first-hand. “The roads are just not smooth in anyway shape or form,” said Jamie Schriner, Old Town Commercial Association board president. The state of Michigan has a budget of $3.5 to $4 million for capital improvements on roads or structural changes each year, said Chad Gamble, chief operating director and director of public service for the City of Lansing. Gamble said the major problem with trying to maximize road life is that the “needs of the roadway far far outweigh and exceed the amount of funding that we have for it.”

Schriner said she thinks it’s smart to pave streets with more vehicle traffic. She said they could “set aside a budget and say we’ll put three-fourths of our budget to the most highly trafficked areas first and then set a quarter of our budget aside for the less highly trafficked areas.”

Schriner said they could then let those less trafficked areas pick where work is needed in their neighborhood.

Old Town incidents gone down

Old Town criminal incidents are on track to be the lowest they have been in the past five years. According to the Lansing Police Department, last year there were 165 reported incidents that occurred in Old Town. That is a 14 percent decrease in reported incidents from the previous year.  

As of June this year, there have been 70. Robert Merritt, public information officer at the Lansing Police Department, said via email that these reported incidents can range from trespassing to robbery. Preuss Pets’ owners have experienced crime first-hand.

Brenke Ladder brings fishermen to Old Town

Whether it’s to head down to the river to relax and watch the water flow over the dam or to try and catch a meal, the Grand River and the Brenke Fish Ladder have become a communal place for people of all backgrounds to appreciate what nature and Old Town have to offer. “I come down to the fish ladder almost five days a week,” said Kurt Scobie, a fisherman from Everett, Michigan. “I love being by the water, it’s peaceful, calms me down and allows me to catch some dinner.”

The Brenke Fish Ladder was built in 1981 as a way to aid fish who were swimming upstream to spawn. Designed as a circle, the fish jump over barriers that slowly get taller and taller until they are safely above the dam and can continue up the river. “I fish here all the time,” said Azid Rodriguez, a Dewitt local who was fishing for catfish.

How Old Town stays afloat

You will always find some type of event happening in Old Town. Why? The neighborhood doesn’t receive any money from the state so these events help raise funds to pay for everything from trash removal to hanging baskets. “We don’t actually get any funding from the state,” Old Town Commercial Association board president Jamie Schriner said. “The largest way that we raise funding is through putting on events.”

Schriner said these festivals include the Old Town Oktoberfest, ScrapFest, and the Chocolate Walk.