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Downtown Holland surpasses 700K square feet of snow-melting sidewalks

Posted at 5:43 PM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 17:43:18-04

HOLLAND, Mich. — Holland's pride and joy in the spring is Tulip Time. During the summer, of course, it's Lake Michigan. And in the winter, it's their magic show, snow-melting sidewalks that hardly ever need to be shoveled.

Construction on 10th Street was the perfect time for the city of Holland to expand their snowmelt system. It's a trend from the '80s that actually stuck.

"Downtown Holland has expanded to over 700,000 square feet of snowmelt," says Downtown Development Authority Coordinator Amy Sasamoto.

The city just put the pumpkins out, but make no mistake, they know a West Michigan fall is followed by a brutal winter.

"This year we have expanded the system on 10th street," says Sasamoto. "That's because they were doing construction on 10th street. Sewer work, curb work, curb and gutter work. Any time we do that, and we see an opportunity to put in snowmelt, we'll do that at the same time."

Since '88, the sidewalks have melted themselves, growing larger each year.

"We want to be able to be a year-round town," Sasamoto tells us.

The cement pavers are more than just aesthetically pleasing; they make for faster repairs for the system Holland's known for.

"People want it," says Sasamoto. "People ask for it. People want snowmelt."

Ask, and you shall receive. The snowmelt gets the credit for running the mall out of town, keeping feet in downtown Holland.

"The malls were threatening downtown areas," Sasamoto recalls. "He saw this as a way to redo the streetscape."

A private donation got them started, and with the addition of the power plant in 2016...

"We can probably go six times bigger than what we have now," says Sasamoto.

If it snows before Nov. 1, people will still have to shovel, so fingers crossed the weather stays this beautiful until then.

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