The City of Litchfield, just a 15-minute drive from Hillsdale, is adding to its city infrastructure with new pavement, a new public pool, new water lines, and a natural gas plant.
Douglas Terry, Litchfield’s city manager, said the city is looking forward to each of the new projects.
Litchfield secured a grant recently from Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources to reconstruct its public pool. The total cost is about $494,000, according to Terry, and the grant will cover about half of the price. Cities that receive this grant, which can be difficult to apply for, must come up with matching dollars for the project.
Terry said Litchfield’s pool, which is 50 years old, is the only municipal one in Hillsdale County, and residents appreciate using it during summer months. People from all around the county use the pool. “We’re in the design phase right now,” Terry said. “We want to be constructing in early spring with a completion of mid-summer.”
The pool reconstruction is the newest improvement to Litchfield’s recreation system, which Terry said has been largely funded through donations in the past.
Last year, Litchfield sent a survey to its residents asking about recreational needs. “The response was overwhelming that people wanted the pool rebuilt,” Terry said. “They were very supportive of us pursuing this.”
In addition, the Michigan Department of Transportation is resurfacing parts of the Michigan Highway 99 and Michigan Highway 49. The City of Litchfield will meet with MDOT engineers and officials on Feb. 10 to discuss details of the project, according to Terry.
Over the past few years, MDOT has worked on resurfacing Michigan Highway 99 throughout Hillsdale County, including in the City of Hillsdale.
Michigan Hub, a company “whose mission is to drive rural economic development through locally produced low-cost energy,” according to its website, is replacing a former coal-fired power plant with a natural gas one in Litchfield’s industrial park.
Glenn Foy, CEO of Michigan Hub, said the company wanted to provide cleaner energy to local industrial businesses at a lower cost than getting it from the grid. Foy added that this energy source significantly reduces the carbon footprint of businesses who choose that option.
Though it will take several years to construct and find customers, the plant has already secured its first tenant, Independent Barley and Malt, which supplies brewers throughout the region.
Michigan Hub, according to Foy, emphasizes locality. “Independent Barley and Malt works with local farmers and supplies to Michigan brewers,” he said. “By building this plant, we’re making their supply chain even more local.”
“Everyone’s really excited, and the project has a lot of grassroots support,” Foy said. “It’s exciting for the economy.”
Finally, Litchfield will also redo about 1,800 feet of water main “in anticipation of road replacement,” according to Terry. Whenever a city replaces or paves its roads, it should redo the infrastructure below it, Terry added.
“It’s good practice to replace the infrastructure below the road,” Terry said. “You don’t want to pave a road before you replace the infrastructure.”
Terry said the new water main will cost Litchfield about $300,000 in total.