The Belleville Downtown Develop-ment Authority voted unanimously to go out for bids for a new Gateway sign for the front door of the city.
At the March 16 DDA meeting, Dave Vallier of Spicer Engineers presented a drawing of how the sign would look. He said they took a picture of the site, on Main Street near Hayward’s where a sign is now, and superimposed the proposed new sign design.
The sign will be dedicated to the memory of Chesley Odom in a ceremony after the annual Bridge Walk on Aug. 18. Ever since the sign was first discussed, DDA member Gary Snarski had pushed to give Mr. Odom credit for his work.
Mr. Odom, a local, prize-winning designer, had drawn the welcome sign several years ago, but did not note the specifications. Mr. Odom had said the sign was estimated to cost about $40,000 to put in place.
But, the sign that will be put up is not exactly as Mr. Odom rendered it. The size of the sign is reduced from 10’ to 7.5” to fit the concrete pad that has been installed.
Instead of the teal color that Mr. Odom used on the Belleville Bridge amenities, the Community Events sign, and presumably would use on this sign, the DDA Streetscape Committee chose black and gold, to match the Fourth Street Square sign. Instead of the brick for the columns, the committee decided on cobblestone to match the streetscape.
Vallier said the sign will be made of powder-coated steel plate, a piece of limestone with letters etched into the limestone and painted, limestone caps on top of the columns, retaining blocks at the bottom like the streetscape, three to four lights in the planter, and a sprinkler system.
Following the prerequisite “Welcome to Belleville,” instead of “Home of the National Strawberry Festival” as Mr. Odom thought it might say, it will say “Downtown on the Lake.”
“I like it because you look through it to the lake,” said DDA member Ken Voigt. “Chesley did a good job.”
“Yes, he did,” Vallier agreed.
Chesley Odom died suddenly in 2008 as he was preparing to run for Van Buren Township Trustee as an independent candidate.
In other business at the March 16 meeting, the DDA:
• Reviewed with Molly and Vicky from Plante Moran the 2009-10 DDA Audited Financial Report, which is a part of the city budget. The income was down 3% from the previous year, (with the City of Belleville being 7-8% down). As of June 30, 2010, tax revenue was $1,043,108, proceeds from the 2010 Capital Improvement bonds were $4,202,775, and interest/other was $8,888. After expenditures the total unrestricted fund balance was $867,532, an increase of $100,000 from the previous year;
• Heard Vallier say that he met with Davenport earlier that day and once the frost laws are off the roads Davenport will be working on the punch list to complete streetscape work. Also, Pamar will be fixing road problems near the bridge and in water catches by Second and Fifth streets. Step work will also be done at the Masonic Temple and restriping of the street will take place. (Vallier said the weather was colder and the concrete didn’t stick to the paint.) Vallier said they plan to have everything done by Strawberry Festival in June. DDA members also said they would like to have the Five Points work extend as far out as possible from the intersection and Vallier will look into the cost and if Wayne County will allow it;
• Was introduced to Evan Pratt, a new member of the Spicer team who will be in the Belleville office every day, according to Vallier. DDA chairman Kerreen Conley expressed pleasant surprise at seeing Pratt, since she knew him;
• Discussed the project list developed in January 2009 that put waterfront projects to improve public access to the lake as a high priority, followed by the Gateway sign, and City Centre new development. “We put the infrastructure in and now we have to move forward,” said Conley, noting there are grant opportunities and the DDA knows its priorities. It was suggested the merchants be surveyed. “We don’t want to regress, so they don’t think we don’t care,” Conley said. When suggesting the merchants be contacted by email, DDA member Gary Snarsky said, “Mike [Windidate] has a list of emails. Somehow, someway, we have to get their emails and tell them we want to survey you.” Conley said getting a list of emails without the people’s permission is “a credibility, a trust issue.” She suggested doing a newsletter;
• Heard Voigt report the Marketing Committee discussed promotions for this summer like last year to get some synergy for the events going on. “We’re also prepared to put together a promotional film for downtown and continue the shop-local campaign.” He said the committee had no specific recommendation at this time;
• In the absence of Sabrina Richardson-Williams, Voigt presented her two-page Murals & Public Art Proposal for Downtown Belleville, with a subhead of “Belleville by the lake, the city with the beautiful murals!” Her proposal has two tiers, one for temporary murals for events this summer and one for putting a committee together to find sites for permanent murals and seek out professionals or talented amateurs. “We have some good mural artists locally; Bob Mytych is one,” said Voigt. Volunteering to serve on the mural committee were Voigt and Mayor Richard Smith;
• Heard Conley say the downtown needs a deep cleaning after the winter. Carl Thompson, DDA coordinator, said there is an issue with using the fire hoses to clean the pavers, as planned, because the pressure is too strong. Mayor Smith said the court workers were to be helping on Sunday, March 20;
• Directed Thompson to get a price for how much it would cost to replace the railings at Doane’s Landing with aluminum fences like those at the city parking lot. Thompson said they already have unit prices. Conley said it would cost $25,000 to repaint the present fence and $60,000 to remove, paint, and replace. Painting over the water is not good, Conley said. “If we did it in aluminum, we wouldn’t have the rust issue,” Voigt said;
• Heard Voigt say he wants to get Thompson a new phone so she can send and receive text messages. Thompson will look into the cost; and
• Heard Mayor Smith say when the parking spaces are striped, the Strawberry Festival wants to use the marked parking spaces for the vendors, instead of spray painting on the new streetscape.