DDA votes to eliminate, keep certain events for 2019

MANISTEE — While the Manistee Downtown Development Authority (DDA) moves to fill its executive director position, many decisions for the success of the downtown area still loom ahead.

Tyler Leppanen recently left his position as the DDA executive director, which led the DDA board on Wednesday to finalize details for posting the job to any interested, qualified applicants.

Also at a meeting on Wednesday, the DDA board held several votes to eliminate certain downtown events from its 2019 calendar. The effort aims to allow DDA board members to focus more on economic development, and aid in the transitional period in finding a new executive director.

For the next year, DDA board members voted in favor of holding Spark Manistee, Hops and Props and the Victorian Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend, all as DDA sponsored events. T. Eftaxiadis, secretary, and Barry Lind, vice chair, voted no.

Lind voiced his concerns about not having a solid plan yet for 2019, and mentioned the possibility of eliminating Sleighbell from the DDA’s calendar, leaving it up to the community. However, others were not on board.

Rachel Brooks, DDA chair, said planning for all three events would likely be assigned to committees. However, details still need to be worked out moving forward.

“I will oversee that all three of those events have a budget, a chair and a committee,” said Brooks.

The DDA also unanimously voted to eliminate the Frostbite Chili Crawl, which is scheduled for January 2019. Brooks said she, and another downtown merchant, are interested in taking over the event. Announcements will be made as the event approaches.

“(Another merchant) and I are both going to take care of Frostbite if the DDA gets rid of it, and whoever else wants to be on the committee,” Brooks said. “This starts putting more responsibility on merchants, and off the DDA…”

Other events like the Women’s Wine and Chocolate Walk, TGIF events, sidewalk sales and Men’s and Ladies Nights were tabled, and will be discussed at future meetings. Board members also considered renaming the Women’s Wine and Chocolate Walk, opening it up to more people.

Boos, Brews and Brats is said to be a Manistee Elks event moving forward.

As of right now, board members agreed there needs to be more talk around how to run the events, or who could possibly take over if the DDA decided to eliminate them.

Board member Shari Wild said, hopefully, others in the community will come forward to help, or give their input on the issue.

“Sometimes decisions are made without including all of those who are affected,” said Wild. “Maybe somebody will come out of the woodwork within the next month… or (we will) have suggestions from the store owners.”

Also on Wednesday, the DDA voted in favor to satisfy the Vogue Theatre’s loan, which had a standing amount of $100,000. Steve Brower, Vogue board treasurer, said the Vogue would like to pay $95,000, due to the rest of the funds, recently gathered in a fundraiser, going toward other necessary expenses.

The bard approved the requested $95,000; Lind voted no.

“Thank you so much for your consideration,” said Brower. “We do appreciate everything that the DDA has done for us.”

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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