Cass wants to bring back DDAPublished 11:27am Thursday, August 29, 2013
The Cassopolis Village Council at its agenda workshop discussed several items including the clean up of Stone Lake, resurrecting the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and becoming part of the Michigan Main Street Program.
Village Manager Cindy LaGrow told the council that she has been looking into bringing back the DDA.
“When I came into the village, one of the things that I noticed was that we did not have a DDA,” LaGrow said. “A Downtown Development Authority is a mechanism in which some of the taxes collected in a certain area of the community and are spent in that certain area for upkeep, maintenance, marketing, all those kinds of things.
“We used to have a very active DDA up until 2005. We have a DDA plan that was approved in 2003 that will expire in December of 2013.”
LaGrow noted that the village can reactivate the DDA, for which it already has a plan, before it expires in December. LaGrow said she can take the current plan, go through it and bring it up to date if that is what the council would like to do.
About the Michigan Main Street Program, she told the council that helps support and improve Michigan’s downtowns, but it is not a grant program.
LaGrow told the council that a couple of weeks ago during a County Commission planning session, it had expressed an interest in helping the village with its downtown area and the courthouse.
“They came up with the idea of joining the Michigan Main Street Program,” she said. “The Michigan Main Street Program is a program that provides training to residents who are interested in serving on this group that would help them learn how to plan events, plan for marketing, plan on bringing people into the community and how that works.”
A meeting is set for Sept. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Kincheleo Room at the courthouse annex with Niles’ Juan Ganum, community development director, and Lisa Croteau, director of marketing and administration for Niles Main Street.
“They will be speaking to a group of us to help us understand what the DDA and Michigan Main Street Program has meant to them and what it’s a good thing,” LaGrow said.
She noted that Niles started out with a single community garden, which Cassopolis started this year, and now has four.
“Just by involving people and getting more people into the downtown and getting more people engaged, they have really been able to do some great things with their downtown,” LaGrow said.
That led to LaGrow and Ben Anderson taking about the Cassopolis Fall Festival, set for Sept. 19. The event is still in the planning stages and will be brought before the council for approval at its next meeting.
The village continues to look into a way to control the weeds in and around Stone Lake. The council heard from citizens, including a Stone Lake property owner, and Anderson, Department of Public Works superintendent.
The lengthy and productive discussion led to the council telling citizens in attendance that they would continue to look into the problem. Since part of the lake sits in LaGrange Township, members of the village will attend its next meeting to see how they want to proceed.
LaGrow also said that she and Anderson would continue to research the best solution for the problem. LaGrow knows that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will also be involved.