This conceptual drawing shows the proposed pavilion where the current Otsego ice rink sits, with the museum in the background. (Image provided)

Crowdfunding Otsego’s Riverfront Pavilion

Fundraising concert will be Saturday with New Generation
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Otsego Main Street is helping make a public pavilion a reality with a crowdfunding campaign.

The 6,000-square-foot, open-air structure next to the Otsego Historical museum is being designed to provide shelter for the local farmers market during warmer months, the community ice rink in the winter and any number of other public gatherings.

“The pavilion is Step 1 of our riverfront development plan. It’s the keystone to everything else,” said Otsego Mayor Cyndi Trobeck. “It will be more of a center point of Otsego.

“We’ve got the kayak launch already, but this project can pave the way for the rest of the design, with a splash pad, public restrooms.”

After some recent private donations infused fundraising efforts for the $300,000 project, Otsego Main Street has helped organize a fundraiser with its sights set on $50,000.

If the campaign reaches its crowd funding goal of $50,000 by Nov. 1, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Public Spaces Community Places program.

Downtown Development Authority chairman Marty Bennett said, “So, basically for everyone in the public who is donating, for every dollar they give, it gets doubled at this point.”

The campaign is being offered through Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity. For project details and to donate, visit



Otsego Main Street director Joel Saukas said this project was the result of a public survey in 2014 about what should be done with the city-owned land along the Kalamazoo River.

Saukas said, “Volunteers who carry out different events and projects with Main Street took this public input and worked to develop a plan for the area. In 2018 this plan was completed and approved by the Otsego City Commission and the Otsego Main Street DDA.”

This Riverfront Redevelopment Master Plan also includes plans for an outdoor amphitheater, a boat launch, an extended riverwalk.

“The Riverfront Pavilion will be a multi-use year-round space for Otsego’s Farmer’s Market, community events and festivities, and as a sheltered ice rink in the winter,” said city manager Aaron Mitchell. “It will serve as a space for family, friends, and community to come together for years to come. Otsego needs this community gathering space.”

Bennett said the first effort that developed from all that planning was closing the alley behind Maude’s and M-89 Sports Bar.

“But the first real visible thing for the community is going to be this pavilion,” Bennett said. “Hopefully, this will make it easier to increase interest in developing more along the riverfront.”

“It’s exciting to see it go from just an idea to actually having town meetings to have ideas for it, to planning it out, getting conceptual drawings, and laying out where it’s going to go.

“I think it can become a big part of our downtown, and it will help our businesses downtown. When people are done shopping at the farmers market, they can then go up get something to eat, shop in our stores.”



Before construction can begin, of course, the money needs to be raised. The crowdfunding effort began Sept. 1 and was up to $9,500 of its $50,000 goal as of Tuesday.

To help give it a boost, the city has planned a Riverfront Pavilion Fundraiser Concert for Saturday, Sept. 21.

The New Distractions will perform from 1 to 3 p.m. and all proceeds will benefit the construction project. Food vendors will be on-site.

If successful, this plus the MEDC grant should add the final $100,000 or more needed for the project. The $300,000 project estimate is a preliminary number. After Main Street put out the word for donations in the spring, several donors requesting anonymity responded with commitments of nearly $50,000. By July the project had secured another $15,000 plus a Consumers Energy project award of $10,000.

The rest will be made up through funding from Otsego Main Street and a loan from the city coffers, which Main Street would repay in future years.

Saukas said, “Obviously, we’re trying to raise as much as we can with this effort to minimize the loan from the city.”

Mayor Trobeck said donors should consider giving to help forge the city’s history.

“People should give to be part of the legacy to get this started, to be one of the visionaries to get Otsego to be more of a place to be,” she said, noting there are different levels of giving. A legacy wall will be erected in the pavilion to recognize donors.

Contact Ryan Lewis at or (269) 673-5534.


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