STARS Site Feasibility Study Focuses on Three Locations for New Facility

Expanding the the Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS) into a new location is no easy task.

The current facility at 615 Johnson St. isn’t large enough to house its fleet of buses, and the organization is renting or leasing two other properties. STARS has been conducting a site feasibility study, examining three other locations, each between 12 and 15 acres. The study is expected to finished in July.

STARS Director of External Affairs Jaimie Forbes says their status as a government organization places rules and restrictions on their funding, and logistically speaking, finding the right site is a challenge as well.

“I think one of the major limitations is that we have to have a pretty large footprint, and there’s not a lot of large footprint (properties) available. Properties that we could get our hands on that are close to where our riders live and where they want to get.”

Forbes says an additional challenge is if a site is privately owned, if the sale price is too high, it could exclude them from affording the location.

So STARS conducted a community wide survey, asking residents and stakeholders their thoughts on three sites identified in the feasibility study: the former Riverside Plaza on Genesee Ave., a site near the new Saginaw United High School on Davenport and the old Potter Street Train Station. The results of the survey were revealed in an open house at the Dow Event Center on Monday.

STARS Executive Director Glenn Steffens says 704 people participated in the survey.

“We hit a lot of our riders… I’d guess somewhere around 500 (respondents) were actual riders that use the system everyday. We did have some people from the out-county, from the township areas not currently in our service area.”

Steffens says there were also one on one meetings with community stakeholders for a rounded input of what the community would like to see STARS do moving forward.

Could public transportation in Saginaw bring an economic boom to an underdeveloped section of the city?

On the top of the list is the former Potter Street Train Station, located in an area where much of the surrounding property is owned by the Saginaw County Land Bank.

Steffens says that portion of the city is ripe for economic development.

“If we’re moving through that many people, 1,000 people a day, more hopefully, and so this becomes a hub where people are moving though that, that really, I think, motivates private sector investment to see return on investment in the area. There’s already people there. The pump is primed, so I can come in and get some commercial realization of profit from this.”

Steffens has spoken with staff from Congressman Dan Kildee’s office and other state and federal officials who he says have been receptive to the Potter Street Station site when he explains the potential economic impact a STARS facility could have on the area.