By Jason Wesseldyk
The website “Only In Your State” recently published an article titled “Michigan Just Wouldn’t Be The Same Without These 5 Charming Small Towns.”
Among the featured small towns? None other than Otsego.
“Main Street Otsego has an all-American feel to it with small businesses, a quaint coffee shop and tasty local restaurants,” wrote Emily Tieman in the article. “Many people travel to Otsego during the winter months to buy a season pass for Bittersweet Ski Resort. Bittersweet has 20 ski runs for all levels of experience and even offers night skiing and snowboarding.”
Otsego City Manager Aaron Mitchell found out about Otsego’s inclusion after former Mayor Cyndi Trobeck’s husband Gary shared the article on Facebook.
“I was surprised, since we were on the list with some big hitters like Ludington,” Mitchell.
South Haven, Elk Rapids and Houghton joined Otsego and Ludington on the list.
“Otsego is a special place,” Mitchell said. “I think in so many ways, it is still the same small town that many residents grew up in 40 or 50 years ago. Yet, it has also stayed up with the times with its investment in its riverfront and downtown along with the efforts to hold large events to bring visitors to Otsego.
“It offers the longtime residents a sense of nostalgia while also offering new residents a friendly, safe, and inviting community with unmatched city services.”
Mitchell cites the city’s public school system and public library as two of the main draws for residents.
“Few cities of Otsego’s size offer a public school system and library like we do,” he said. “Both of those entities are huge draws for our community. I personally came to Otsego for my children to go through Otsego Public Schools and have still been overwhelmingly impressed with the great job that superintendent (Jeff) Haase and his team are doing.
“And (library) director Andrea Estelle finds incredibly innovative ways to make the Otsego District Library a leader in the region. Otsego offers a lot for a city of 4,000.”
The fact that Otsego is located between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids is also part of its appeal, according to Michell.
“The location is ideally situated,” he said. “One can work in a large city, while enjoying all of the benefits of small town living.”
Visitors can also enjoy that small-city charm.
“Whether it is driving through on the way to the lakeshore, or spending a Saturday and Sunday in town participating in our annual Gus Macker tournament, come to Otsego looking at it as a small traditional hometown as if you grew up here,” Mitchell said. “You will find the friendly, welcoming demeanor of our residents to be a breath of fresh air.
“If you grew up in a small town, you will find many similarities whether you are from across the county or the country.”