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2018: Village of Sebewaing Sea Kayaking, Walking, and Recreation Study

Student-Led, Faculty Guided Project - 2018

Authors: MSU School of Planning Design and Construction


The Village of Sebewaing is in the beginning stages of their first Master Plan in over thirty years. To include the Village's wonderful yet underutilized natural resources, this plan will take into account factors unique to Sebewaing. Due to budget constraints, this fiscally distressed community is seeking the help of the MSU Urban and Regional Planning Practicum Program, to incorporate a kayak presence and walking path into attainable goals within the Village of Sebewaing Master Plan. Students will help evaluate current kayak and walking trends, analyze data for feasibility, identify the best potential site(s), and formulate strategies for implementation to create a more navigable community for residents and visitors alike. This has the potential to spur future revitalization and economic growth for downtown Sebewaing and surrounding areas.

Author Information

Melanie McCoy Melanie McCoy

Melanie McCoy has been involved in the Construction, Operation and Management of Power Generation facilities for over 35 years. She is currently the Superintendent of Sebewaing Light and Water, a Municipal Utility in the Thumb of Michigan providing electricity, water and internet to its 1,700 residents. Sebewaing became the first "Gigabit" Community in Michigan in 2015. Prior to Sebewaing she was General Manager in Wyandotte, MI where an Integrated Renewable Energy Program was initiated. This program included solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency. A Mechanical Engineer from Lehigh University, Melanie previously served as Plant Manager and then Director of Environmental Projects at DTE Energy.

Executive Summary

The 2018 Village of Sebewaing Recreation Plan is an update of Sebewaing’s 2014 Recreation Plan, as well as an extension of the Village’s upcoming Master Plan Update. This plan contains a collection of strategies and recommendations that are designed to help increase the livability of the residents of Sebewaing through recreational means. The plan itself is not an end product but is rather a means to assist the Village of Sebewaing in obtaining its long-term recreation goals, which include providing safe and sustainable recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

Through a collaborative process between the Village of Sebewaing, Delta Institute, and Michigan State University, a series of evaluations and assessments were conducted to best understand the needs of Sebewaing residents and visitors. Community input and partner cooperation has encouraged the Village to approach recreational planning in a more creative and sustainable way. Ultimately, the recommendations formed by the MSU Practicum Team were created based on two main principles; evaluation and assessments findings, and community input and interaction.

In order to support the findings and recommendations made by Delta Institute and Michigan State University, the plan is divided into four separate chapters. The first chapter includes a brief overview of Sebewaing, specifying the Village’s natural features, existing recreational opportunities, current zoning classifications, and socioeconomic makeup. Together, the contents of Chapter One provide a summary of Sebewaing’s residential community and various natural amenities located throughout the Village. It offers an in-depth look at the characteristics that make up the Village of Sebewaing, characteristics that are essential to acknowledge when planning of a community.

Chapter Two focuses on the assessments conducted by the Michigan State University Practicum Team, involving a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (referred to as SWOT) analysis, walkability scores surrounding the Downtown, a Sebewaing tourism recap that includes a Huron County tourism trend analysis, and a community input report highlighting Delta Institute’s Master Plan Community Survey. The aforementioned assessments are critical for planning Sebewaing’s future recreation, considering the Village is home to a well-rounded sense of tourism.

Following the various assessments, Chapter Three is dedicated to providing Village evaluations constructed by the Michigan State University Practicum Team. It is comprised of four sections. The chapter is introduced by a set of case studies that aim to compare Sebewaing’s recreational opportunities to those that have experienced a great deal of success. These studies are important to the plan and to the Village of Sebewaing because it shows real-world examples of what the Village aims to accomplish with this updated recreation plan.

Following the case studies comes a set of Goals and Objectives created by the Michigan State Practicum Team that are designed to guide and facilitate the future of recreation in the Village. Each goal comes with a specific focus:

  • Goal 1 aims to provide Sebewaing with safe community-based recreational opportunities.
  • Goal 2 specifies the importance of preserving and enhancing the natural environment.
  • Goal 3 promotes walkability and livability throughout the Village’s existing recreation.
  • Goal 4 hopes to increase the presence of tourism throughout Sebewaing.

The broad purpose of the Goals and Objectives found in the plan is to aid Sebewaing in increasing the volume of recreational opportunities in an environmentally friendly fashion that will attract visitors to the Village.

Combining the Village overview, assessments, and evaluations generated by the Michigan State University Practicum Team has allowed for a series of three recommendations to be prepared for the Village of Sebewaing. Each recommendation is accompanied by an implementation method, cost calculation, maps detailing locations of each recommendation, and a list of funding sources available.

Of the three recommendations, the first looks at the creation and implementation of a 1.85-mile-long trail that aims to connect various recreational opportunities in Sebewaing. More specifically, the non-motorized trail stretches from the Downtown area to Saginaw Bay. This recommended trail has the potential to greatly increase the connectivity between recreation, while simultaneously providing a safe path for residents and visitors to enjoy Sebewaing’s natural features.

The second recommendation includes the implementation of a new kayak launch in one of three possible locations selected by the Practicum Team. This recommendation ties in with Sebewaing’s strong sense of tourism and Huron County’s concentrated kayaker presence. Following the input generated by community stakeholders, each location proposal will separate kayakers from the Sebewaing Harbor Marina. This is to ensure the safety of kayakers in the Village from large boats alongside a safety brochure developed by the Practicum Team.

Increasing the capacity of recreational signage thought the Village is the last recommendation, which aims to help increase the volume of visitors and tourists traveling to Sebewaing. Again, playing off of the Village’s strong sense of tourism, this recommendation will strengthen tourism in Sebewaing, drawing in economic activity and possibly employment opportunities.

Overall, the 2018 Village of Sebewaing Recreation Plan aims to provide the framework for future recreation development in Sebewaing, providing residents and visitors alike with sustainable and highly connected recreational opportunities.