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Below are the 4 most recent journal entries recorded in The Waubansee Bay Fiction Project's LiveJournal:

Thursday, October 24th, 2002
11:41 am
Business Districts
St. Joseph downtown [E5] is the touristy shopping district, with small shops in historic buildings.
Benton Harbor downtown [E6 and 7 along BR94] is the finance district and modern downtown. The major department stores downtown closed in the 1970s when the first mall was built; one was taken over by Waubansee Community College, the other was turned into a science and math magnet high school.
Entertainment zone: There are nightclubs and restaurants along the west side of the St. Joseph River and Morrison Channel, [F6] along Bernice Ave. (someone rename that please!) There’s a minor league baseball stadium where the channel joins the river.
Research park: Northwest of the airport, extending towards the lake; various research facilities for tech firms.
Malls. Orchards Mall [F8] is Waubansee Mall, the first built, in the late 1960s; it is now very run-down and partly empty, and the surrounding shopping area is struggling. The new mall, Blue Creek Mall, is at the interchange of BR94, I94 and US 31, in the southwest corner of that intersection. BR94 and US31 in this area are the major modern shopping area. There’s a strip mall and more shopping at the interchange north of Stevensville [K3]. Stevensville, btw, is really the village of Thomas, which has resisted incorporation in Waubansee Bay.
Green Belt: Thanks to an unlikely coalition of hippies, rich landowners and old farming families, Royalton Township enacted strict zoning laws limiting new building to a minimum 10 acre lot size between John Beers and Linco Roads, in order to stop sprawl in that direction. Many small business regulations are waived for 10-acre homesteader, so there are lots of weird small businesses in here. Though the zoning has held up, it’s a constant source of tension, as is the odd mix of residents. City growth since the 70s has mostly been to the north and east, along the new 31 corridor.
Racetrack: Horse racing at a facility on M140 south of Watervliet; as a result there’s some development at the interchange of M140 and I94, restaurants and such.. Dave, is there a mob-owned restaurant there?
11:39 am
Transportation stuff
Anything in [] brackets is a coordinate off the ‘official’ map we’re sharing. Suggestions are most welcome. I’m only giving a broad outline here; beyond this, make it up!
Major highways are as shown on a Michigan map, except that US 31 was completed in the early 1970s. On the county map, it goes almost due north from Berrien Springs (rather than bending to the west). It runs up the east edge of the detail map, [column 11], passing to the east of Lake Michigan College (which is Lake Michigan University in the WB world), then curving west to meet I-94 at Business Route 94 [D10]. The current 31 is still two lanes and relatively underdeveloped.

Waubansee Regional Transportation Center is at the location of the current airport [C8], somewhat expanded. There’s also a bus terminal and Amtrak station. Amtrak also stops at the picturesque train station in the south downtown area during non-commuter hours for ‘shopper’s specials.’

There’s a bus company, which is fairly reliable for connecting the airport and the two downtown areas, but otherwise is typically inefficient and underused.

Water: there’s ferry service to and from Chicago, takes several hours. The harbor has been considerably expanded on the north [Tiscornia Park area]; as a result, M63 has been rerouted to follow BR94 across the river, and follows PawPaw back to the current M63. The M63 bridge is a drawbridge which is open to auto traffic only 7 to 9 am and 4 to 6 pm. (The railroad bridge has been rebuilt to be tall enough to let large vessels pass under.) The St. Joseph River is navigable for fairly large boats as far as Berrien Springs. The PawPaw River isn’t navigable except to canoes and small fishing boats.

Current Mood: nervous
Monday, October 14th, 2002
12:12 pm
WB geography: land features, soil, crops
The dominant feature, of course, is Lake Michigan. Lakefront property is at a premium, and there are many extraordinary houses along the shore, though there are also surviving older properties-- sometimes intermingled in odd ways. There is a bluff parallel to the shore, sometimes straight down to the water, sometimes as much as half a mile inland. Where the bluff is right next to the water, erosion is a major problem, especially during the early spring storms. In one area (Lakeshore Road just south of Hilltop) five houses fell into the water in the early 1970s after a particularly vicious set of storms; several more houses are perched precariously on the very edge of the bluff. (Now there’s a potential climax for your novel!)

The soil is very sandy, especially within 10 miles of the lake. As a result, creeks cut deep ravines, which tends to isolate neighborhoods; only the larger arterial roads connect from one neighborhood to another. The St. Joseph River has also cut deeply, and has sharp bluffs above it in places, especially on the south side; erosion is a problem, but less so than the lake bluff because the wind is less.

Trees near the lake are mostly cottonwood and pines; inland these are mixed with oaks, maples and willows. The sandy soil is great for orchards and vineyards: grapes, apples and cherries, and some peaches. Beginning about 10 miles inland there are some corn and soybean fields, mostly still in smaller farms; the rolling hills and deep ravines do not suit larger operations well.
Sunday, October 13th, 2002
3:57 pm
Waubansee Bay geography
Okay, apparently several people (including me--- eep!) are considering setting NaNoWriMo novels in Waubansee Bay, so as the semi-official Geography Guru, I guess it’s time for me to lay in some background info.

Waubansee Bay occupies the real-life location of Benton Harbor, St. Joseph and Stevensville, Michigan, on Lake Michigan northeast of Chicago. If you look at a map of the area, I-94 bulges away from the lake in this area; Waubansee Bay, population about 140k, occupies most of the bulge, with suburbs extending a few miles east of the interstate. Your map will probably show a dotted line of unfinished construction of Route 31 from Berrien Springs to Benton Harbor; that was completed in WB 1975, and recent suburban growth extends down that new corridor.

I have identical maps of the real Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area I can mail to anyone who wants to write in this setting; that way I can give map coordinates as well as descriptive locations. Email me (addy’s in my LJ profile) with your snail-mail information.

I’ll post more basic info in the next few days, including answers to some questions I’ve already received. More questions are most welcome! If there’s some feature you’d like me to include, let me know and I’ll suggest a location for it. I’m very open to suggestions for major street names and other such goodies.
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