Ypsilanti City Council to vote on consolidating Downtown Development Authorities

On Tuesday, June 16, Ypsi City Council will vote on the creation of a single DDA board to oversee what had previously been the purview of two. I’m sure the politics behind it are messy, as the two areas – Downtown and Depot Town – have always been, to some extent, competitive, but it seems to me as though it would ultimately be a good thing for the City to have a single, unified vision when it came to economic development. It will no doubt be a painful process, but it seems to me as though it’s inevitable. Not only would it allow for a certain degree of cost savings, by eliminating redundancy, but, if Ypsi’s ever going to get it’s shit together as a City, we’ve got to figure out how to work together, across these entrenched divides. At any rate, that’s my take on it, and here’s the relevant section of the DDA Statute being considered by City Council.

Resolution No. 2009-119

June 16, 2009

RESOLVED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF YPSILANTI:

THAT pursuant to the Downtown Development Act, Section 125.1624, subsection 4(7), City Council hereby creates a single Downtown Development Authority board to govern both of Ypsilanti’s Downtown Development Authorities;

AND FURTHER RESOLVED THAT such board will consist of twelve members plus the Mayor;

AND FURTHER RESOLVED THAT such board will be appointed as required by Section 125.1624;

AND FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the members of the combined DDA board filling a resident requirement or the requirement of “having an interest in property located in the downtown district or officers, members, trustees, principals, or employees of a legal entity having an interest in property located in the downtown district” will be equally divided between the two DDA districts;

AND FURTHER RESOLVED THAT at least one member of the combined DDA board shall be a representative of Eastern Michigan University (EMU);

AND FURTHER RESOLVED that the existing DDA boards will expire in thirty (30) days from passage of this resolution or upon the appointment of the combined DDA Board, whichever occurs first.

OFFERED BY: _____________________________________________

SUPPORTED BY: ___________________________________________

YES: NO: ABSENT:

So, if I’ve got this right, they’re proposing that this new DDA board consist of 12 members, plus the Mayor. And, they’re requiring that one of those 12 has to be a representative from EMU. And, of the remaining 11, they’re saying that they need to be equally divided between Downtown and Depot Town stakeholders. As 11 is an odd number, that leaves at least 1 person (and maybe as many as 3 or 5) who doesn’t have a vested business interest in either of the two specified geographic areas. The whole thing will be interesting to watch play out, but I’ll be particularly interested to see who they bring in outside of the regular cast of local business owners. Will they, for instance, bring in people from local non-profits, or business owners from areas of the city outside the current DDA boundaries? And, who will the EMU representative be?

Concerning individuals to be named to the new board, let me throw out just a few for your consideration… Bee Mayhew from Beezy’s, James Marks from VG Kids, Rene Greff from the Corner Brewery, and Dean Mielke from EMU’s Business School.

And, while I say that I agree in principle that we need to coalesce around a single DDA, I’m not by any means suggesting that I agree with this plan (I haven’t spent enough time to consider the alternatives), and I’m certainly not saying that I’m going to agree with City Council’s implementation of it, should it pass. Having watched City Council operate in the past, I have little doubt that, if there’s a way to screw this up, they’ll discover it.

update:
A few other things have been brought to my attention since I posted. First, apparently the law requires that a majority of the DDA board, which in this case would be more than six, have an “interest” in the district. (I’m assuming this means business interest.) Second, according to the statute, a resident representative is also required because there are more than 100 residents in the district. (I suppose this could be a resident of either Depot Town or Downtown.) And, I’m told that this could also be a person having an “interest” in the district, but it doesn’t have to be. Persons having no “interest” in the district, according to my Council informant, are permissible as long as a majority of the board do have an “interest”.

The current EMU representative on the Depot Town DDA is Robert Neeley, the interim EMU Provost.

And, I didn’t mention it above, but it’s up to the Mayor to make the appointments, but he’s to do so with Council approval.

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17 Comments

  1. Brackinald Achery
    Posted June 13, 2009 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    So if the mayor wanted to completely hamstring one of the two existing groups, he could do so by appointing mostly members of one or the other. The majority of council, of course, would approve. Then, they wouldn’t have to try so hard to get people to change festival names.

    Hypothetically.

  2. Posted June 13, 2009 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Like I said, it’s probably a good thing. It just depends a lot on who gets chosen and to what extent these previous divisions stay in place. My hope is that by now everyone realizes that for one section of town to prosper, both have to prosper… Anyway, it could be a good thing. I just imagine that it’ll be painful.

  3. Posted June 14, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    And maybe I overstated the extent to which I’m doubtful that our City leaders might be able to pull this off. Given that my last two personal experiences with City government were Shovelgate and Tuckygate, though, I hope you understand how I might be cynical. Still, I probably went over the line when I implied that they’d likely screw this up. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry if I made anyone on Council cry.

  4. Paul Schreiber
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    FYI, according to the Ypsilanti city charter, the mayor makes appointments to boards and commissions (like the YDDA). City council must approve the appointments. City council can refuse mayoral appointments, but they can’t make appointments (add names) themselves.

    Paul Schreiber
    734-27-5446

  5. Posted June 14, 2009 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Mr. Mayor… As for your appointments, assuming that the new language goes through, and the existing boards are disbanded, how long do you think it will take for you to announce your appointments?

  6. Paul Schreiber
    Posted June 14, 2009 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Mark,

    Page 26 o f the June 16 city council packet says that the current DDA boards expire in thirty days . So the mayor and Ypsilanti city council have thirty days to appoint new YDDA board members after the resolution is passed.

    Paul Schreiber
    734277-5446

  7. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    OK, here we go. We have a chance to make a positive change for the community. Joining the DDAs is a good idea, but only if it is fair to downtown, depot town, and west cross. We need to develope a unified strategy for our city. The question is, can we put old conflicts aside and proceed in a way that will be benificial to all of us.

  8. Curt Waugh
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Dear Andy,

    No.

    Sincerely,
    The Man

  9. amused1
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    The success or failure of such a cooperative venture will really depend upon whether the majority of the participants follow the “fixed pie” model or the “rising tide” model.

    In a nutshell, fixed pie states there is one pie (in this case, potential customer dollars) of unchanging size. If you want more pie you take it and let others go without or with less. Some win, others lose.

    The rising tide model states that a rising tide lifts all the boats. If you build more traffic, thereby increasing potential customer dollars (raise the tide) all business will all see some lift. The unsound businesses (those which don’t improve or can’t cope) will eventually sink.

    I encourage the Mayor to think about these models and assess which model each prospective member most strongly aligns with.

  10. Jeremy
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    I encourage everyone in positions of power in the city to do whatever it takes to hold and gain power at the expense of every other goal. Ideally, you should try to make other people miserable with your power, since that’s the only real proof of having power. Then, you can achieve orgasms.

  11. Rene
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Since mayor Hieftje freed up my future by not re-appointing me to a third term on the Ann Arbor DDA (I have admittedly been an unabashed pain in the ass so i don’t really blame him), I told mayor Schreiber that I would be happy to throw my hat in the ring. I am decidedly in favor of growing the pie and my business is not in either of the DDA boundaries so I think I will be able to see beyond the petty turf wars. But I can’t promise not to be a pain in the ass! How’s that for a campaign speech?

  12. publius
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Schreiber, tear down the wall between Downtown and Depot Town!

  13. Curt Waugh
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    If Rene is involved, there is hope for all of us.

  14. kickball player
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    So, it sounds like Rene is on board. How about the other three Mark mentioned? Will James and Bee serve if asked? We need new blood if we’re going to turn this thing around.

  15. Posted June 15, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for accepting my nomination, Rene. Hopefully the Mayor follows though, and no one on Council gives him a hard time due to the fact that you seem unrepentant about calling your new liquor Ypsitucky Bourbon.

  16. Meta
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    City Council voted last night to combine them.

    http://ypsiciti.com/section/News/One+board%2C+two+DDAs+in+Ypsi-article-881.html

  17. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted June 17, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    By the way, as I posted earlier on the __________ festival thread, City council seems to have no intention of reinstating the contract for parks maintanence with the DTCDC. Please read that posting for what I heard at city council Tuesday night….

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