By Rosemary K. Otzman
At first, the Belleville Downtown Development Authority members were poised to approve the low price quote for fibar mulch for the playscapes at both Village and Victory parks, but then they changed their minds.
Fibar is a special type of wood safety mulch used for playgrounds. The DDA asked for price quotes for 225 cubic yards delivered to Village Park and 134 cubic yards delivered to Victory Park.
At the DDA’s regular meeting May 21, the lowest of four price quotes, $16 per cubic foot ($5,760), from Play Environments, Inc. of Holland, MI, was about to be approved, when Councilman Tom Fielder asked from the audience if the city wasn’t looking at using federal Community Development Block Grant funds to install a new handicapped-accessible playscape at Village Park.
City Manager Diana Kollmeyer said there is a good possibility that the CDBG funds could be used for handicapped-accessible playscapes and some of that money has to be used by the end of the year.
Trying to put in new fibar and then moving it to install a new playscape and then moving it back sounded inefficient, so the DDA changed its motion to ask the bidder to change the order to just fibar for Victory Park.
If the bidder is reluctant to give the same price for a smaller order ($2,144), the fibar will be rebid.
DDA member Rosemary Loria said the Village Park play equipment at Victoria Commons is of wood and is in bad shape.
Councilman Fielder said that if CDBG funds can be used for both parks for handicapped-accessible play equipment that they should make them different from one another, so residents will seek out both playgrounds to use.
In other business at the May 21 meeting, the DDA:
• Approved budget recommendations for fiscal year 2014-15 which requires $28,605 from the fund balance to balance the budget. There is a fund balance of $834,453 for 2014-15 and revenue and expenditures of $914,838. Also, $110,000 in the 2015 bond principal payment is allocated from the reserve amount. With continued slow economic growth, the budget committee continued to recommend reserving future bond payments through 2016 in the amount of $411,467, “just in case.” DDA Coordinator Carol Thompson got a raise from $22.66 to $23.10 per hour. Printing costs have been reduced since the newsletter is now sent by email. The budget report also said the DDA is working with DTE Energy to conduct an energy audit, trying to determine why it is not seeing cost savings since installing the LED street lighting;
• Approved paying not to exceed $500 for the purchase and installation of the proposed city pedestrian crosswalk sign to be put in the middle of Main Street at Fourth Street. The sign will be in place from the end of snow-plowing season in March until the beginning of snow-plowing in November, except when it is moved for special events. The city will vacate one parking space on Main Street to facilitate left turns from Fourth to Main Street, may authorize a 90-day local traffic order, and may take down the yellow crosswalk warning signs leading to the crosswalks if state law allows. City Manager Kollmeyer said there may be a way for the city to pay half of the cost. Councilman Fielder said state law says you must stop for pedestrians in a marked crosswalk;
• Heard Kollmeyer say that two young people were in city hall earlier that day finding out how to go about getting a skate park reopened in the city;
• Heard DDA chairman John Hoops say better striping is needed for the parking spaces on Main Street, especially in front of the Fourth Street Square;
• Heard DDA member Brian Copsey (owner of Bayou Grill) say more downtown family events are needed for the Fourth Street Square, something like a chili cook-off in the fall. “Now it’s just a bunch of rectangular ashtrays … Sad to see it sit empty most of the time.” He was told the Booville committee is planning many events during October at the square;
• Heard resident Ken Voigt compliment the DDA for the crosswalk sign it is planning, for the Wayfinding signs that have been put up, and the sculptures. “The art is fabulous,” he said. He said he was born in Greeley, CO and his family lives in Loveland, CO, and he visits there often. He said Loveland has embraced art and has 120 sculptures in a sculpture park. This has attracted sculptors, foundries, and other businesses related to sculptures. It has a first-Friday art walk and is an art incubator. “You’re on the right track with this art,” Voigt said. “Stats show art is a fantastic economic-development tool.” He suggested once the lease is up on the six sculptures put up in the city, the DDA should look at ways to get permanent sculptures erected;
• Heard Voigt asked if there was any plan to do anything about the geese at Horizon Park. Voigt is part of the committee that arranges the summer Music in the Park series. Kollmeyer said they had tried several things, but haven’t tried dogs. Hoops said he knows someone who has a business, Bye-Bye Birdie, that uses dogs to get rid of birds. “It’s kind of nasty on concert night,” Hoops agreed;
• Heard Steve Jones, president of the Belleville Area Council for the Arts, thank the DDA for the new donations for Art Affair on Main and the summer concerts. He said the Monday car shows will begin June 2;
• Heard DDA Coordinator Carol Thompson thank the six crews of the BYC for the shore cleanup the previous Saturday. There were others who worked to clean up the city and the 34th District Court crew came out to sweep. “We’re looking pretty tidy and ready for summer,” she said; and
• Heard Councilman Fielder say he has heard the most photographed sculpture has been “Heavy Metal” on the Fourth Street Square. He thanked the DDA for its donation to the Historical Society and announced that Strawberry Festival will feature a water show with performers using jet packs on the lake.
Absent and excused from the meeting were Secretary James Higgerson and Treasurer Sabrina Richardson Williams.
By Rosemary K. Otzman