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.

Lansing locals share tourism suggestions for non-residents

The City of Lansing is home to more than 50 tourist attractions including small businesses, recreational activities and political education. How do visitors determine where to start? Lansing residents have several ideas of their own. Madison Stapels, a student strategist at Piper & Gold Public Relations, has lived in the area for several years. Stapels is a Michigan State University student and enjoys kayaking by the Lansing City Market in her free time.

The arts help drive Old Town’s revitalization

One of the first things visitors to Old Town may notice are the large letters reading “Art District” along the fence at the end of Turner Street. Old Town Lansing is known as the Art District, and for good reason. There are several art galleries located here, including Absolute Gallery, Great Lakes Artworks, Katalyst Gallery, and the Michigan Institute for Contemporary Art Gallery. These galleries feature a variety of artists. Great Lakes Artworks, located at 306 E. Grand River Ave., features artwork created exclusively by artists in the Lansing area.

Old Town starts to squeeze beyond its borders; is that a good thing?

What is Old Town Lansing? The old neighborhood may be stretching beyond its original boundaries. Those who live and work here are really trying to expand what people think of as Old Town. For example, the Golden Harvest and Ozone’s Brewhouse to the north; Scoop’s, Strings n Things and Elderly Instruments to the west; and Preuss Pets and Zoobie’s to the east are all a part of town, according to Matt Hund, Old Town Commercial Association board member. But it’s not as simple as simply extending borders.

Old Town 4-3-50 helps keep money in the community

For areas like Old Town, it is essential that they keep money within their local community. Many of the businesses are owned and operated by individuals who rely on their business for their livelihood. This is easier said than done. However, the Old Town Commercial Association has devised a program with the hope of keeping money in Old Town. Old Town 4-3-50 is a project within community, and its goals are to support the businesses in the neighborhood and keep money in the community, according to the OTCA’s website.

Public art represents what Old Town wants to be all about

Whether you are passing or just stopping by, the first couple of things you may notice are all the beautiful and unique art pieces displayed that ultimately shows what Old Town is all about. When Old Town was revitalized in the late 80’s and early 90’s, there were a lot of empty buildings being bought by artists that would use them for studios, media studios, and professional art galleries. It has been the type of area where creative businesses have made it their home, according to Sarah Christiansen, Old Town Commercial Association board member and owner of Katalyst Gallery and Gift Boutique. Dawn Gorman is the communications and events manager at the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, discussed how Old Town became an art district along with how each sculpture, mural, and any piece of art is made. “When Old Town first started out, the main people that were doing stuff in the area were artists,” said Gorman.

Interns making an impact in Old Town

Old Town Commercial Association interns are making their mark in Old Town. Helping with events, talking with sponsors and working on the newsletter are all just a few tasks they help with to grow the neighborhood.