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DDA looking to move farmers market to permanent location

By Ralph Echtinaw

The St. Louis farmers market might get a new home within the next few years, after setting up in the parking lot of city hall since it began.

“We’re looking at doing a study for that kind of thing,” said Downtown Development Authority Director Phil Hansen at Thursday’s DDA meeting. “It will depend on public comments and input from you guys. That is dependent on a grant application that we have in. We feel pretty good about it. But we can’t tell you for sure, ‘Yep. Money’s all set.’ But hopefully pretty soon that kind of announcement can be made. 

FrmrsMkt-12“And it’s something we don’t need to pay for at all. If it comes through it will be where they can go as far as, ‘Hey, here’s what’s available. Here’s what we think.’ And when the time comes that we would choose one of those ideas they can design it, and the grant money would cover the design for the thing.”

Hansen suggested that the Corner Market building might be suitable if it’s big enough. And that would make it possible to have a farmers market year round.

Other topics discussed at the meeting were…

Former Clark gas station

The test results from a check on underground contamination have been sent to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which is supposed to get back to the city in 30 days, Hansen said. “They may be in search of a responsible party. I don’t know if there is one. Hopefully next month we’ll have a better idea of what the next step is. We’ll have some interest once the dust settles. A slow moving project, but at least we’re doing what we’re supposed to.”

Potential new member

Hansen said he has recommended Brandon Flegel of Flegel Tech for a vacancy on the DDA. “He’s been a good kind of go-getter so far. Not only has he put together a really nice business in a really nice place, he’s done a lot of stuff there. They’ve added a lot of things.”

City council is expected to vote on Flegel’s nomination next week.

Downtown vacancies

The former Vcare pharmacy building is for sale, but any new owner is forbidden from making it a pharmacy according to sales restrictions, Hansen said. “I think we can probably find something for that.”

A person contacted Hansen about the former China King restaurant, but Hansen won’t say who.

There are no prospects for the Baker’s Dozen building.

The storefront next to Delta Chiropractic is a problem. “(The owners) have not done what they were instructed to do as far as the front of it,” Hansen said. “I don’t know if I should go into it any deeper than that. That’s something that’s coming to a higher place on the list.”

Hansen on the Corner Market property: “The angle to take there is, ‘Does he have a price that he wants to sell it for? If he’s not fired up about doing anything in there, what kind of sale price might he come up with? It’s a big building. You could do a lot of different things in there.”

Swimming pool: Work is still going on to get it ready to open. “It shouldn’t be too much longer,” Hansen said.

City Manager Kurt Giles added that benches for the pool were donated by Gleaner Insurance Alma Arbor. They were delivered recently and are on the pool deck now. 

Help from state government

Giles and Hansen met recently with Michigan Economic Development Corporation officials, and were pleased with the result. 

“They’ve got a new person for our area,” Hansen said. “This is the organization that does a lot of downtown grant programs. They were really excited about the amount of things that have gone on here lately, even without any DC help. They realize, ‘Hey, here’s a place where we’ve got some stuff done, and we must kind of know what we’re doing.’ So I think when our next project becomes apparent that’s a place we can get some grant money. They just want to be able to have us to provide things to them that show what we’re capable of. For a small town we’ve showed we’re pretty good at doing projects. But we have to give them things on paper to support that argument.”

North Mill repaving

Hansen and everyone at the meeting were pleased with the quality of the work and how quickly it was done (in five days) by Central Asphalt of Mt. Pleasant. But the weather helped a lot. “The day it did rain was a day they weren’t going to do anything anyway,” Hansen said. 

The DDA director also praised DPW Superintendent Mark Abbott for his part in the repaving. “There was a lot of stuff that had to fall into place, and it wasn’t an accident. It really was well done.”

Three blocks on M-46

Hansen said that the stretch of M-46 from Pine to Franklin is in need of improvement. “That stretch needs work,” he said. “It’s not awful, but you can’t let it keep going. Maybe all of those trees are going to have to go. Whether it’s this season or next season I think we can do something there before too long.”

Committees

Hansen and DDA members formed four committees to help the former as he decides what to do about promotions, physical improvements, attracting new businesses and sales/promotions that downtown businesses can do together.

“If we wait on someone else to do it it’s not going to happen,” he said.

Dates to keep in mind

Saturday, July 6: Fireworks.

5-8 p.m. Wednesdays, July 10 and Aug. 14: Downtown “cruise ins” where folks are invited to park their classic cars downtown.

3:15 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22: the Old US-27 Motor Tour arrives.

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