CITY OF MUSKEGON
DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (DDA) /
BROWNFIELD REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (BRA)
October 30, 2018
Chairperson M. Bottomley called the meeting to order at 10:30 AM and roll was taken.
MEMBERS PRESENT: John Riegler, Frank Peterson, Ron Pesch, Martha Bottomley, Paul
Edbrooke, Don Kalisz, Mike Kleaveland, Mike Johnson, Jay Wallace Jr,
MEMBERS ABSENT: Jeanette Moore, excused
STAFF PRESENT: Mike Franzak, Planning Director; Sarah Petersen, Treasurer; Beth Lewis,
Finance Director; Ken Grant; Diane Renkenberger, Administrative
OTHERS PRESENT: Larry Spataro, 1567 5th St.
A motion to approve the Special Meeting Minutes of October 8, 2018 was made by J. Riegler, supported
by R. Pesch and unanimously approved.
Request to approve Resolution adding properties to the DDA – M. Franzak provided a list of
properties that city staff was proposing to add to the DDA. Many of the properties were vacant lots, but
lots in the downtown area were being sold and developed rapidly. F. Peterson explained the reasoning
for including the selected properties in the DDA. A motion to approve the addition of the properties
listed in Exhibit A to the Downtown Development Authority, was made by J. Riegler, supported by P.
Edbrooke and unanimously approved.
Goal setting session – Board members and staff discussed the future direction of the board. L. Spataro
was present to lend assistance in the goal setting and budget process. He had been a city commissioner
at the DDA’s inception and provided historical information on the DDA, its past activities and finances.
DDA funds had historically been used to pay off bonds for the purchase of the Muskegon Mall and there
had been no additional money available in the DDA budget until recently. He stated that the DDA
members needed to determine how they wanted the board to be structured in order to come up with a
budget. Some boards served in an advisory capacity to the city government while others operated
autonomously, other than having their members appointed by the municipality. M. Bottomley stated
that her suggestion was that this board fall somewhere in the middle. The DDA suddenly had funds in
the budget and it was important to set goals before going forward. Board members voiced their concerns,
including the loss of personnel and expertise from the DMN board, the possibility of managing
downtown events, the Farmer’s Market and the chalets with no previous experience in those areas, and
the lack of expertise in managing a budget. L. Spataro stated that an important consideration for the
budget would be what kind of staff the board needed, and if they would be handling only business
development, or if they would also be involved in events. F. Peterson stated that the DDA had been
doing a great job of assisting projects in getting off the ground in the downtown, and staff would continue
to support the board. L. Spataro suggested holding regular monthly meetings to allow staff to keep board
members abreast of ongoing projects; board members agreed. It was decided that meetings would be
held on the second Tuesday of each month at 10:30 AM. If there were no items to discuss, staff could
cancel the meeting and board members would be notified. F. Peterson explained financial details and
discussed budget information including estimated annual revenue. He stated that additional sources of
income may include TIF and Brownfield revenue, and BID funds. Staffing needs were also discussed.
L. Spataro suggested having staff that would be more dedicated to DDA business than what was currently
in place. He pointed out that staff costs could take up a good portion of the budget so it was important
to determine how involved the DDA wished to be. The possibility of sharing staff between the DDA
and other city departments was discussed. L. Spataro stated that the DDA could also contract with an
outside organization such as DMN. J. Wallace stated that he preferred to be conservative with DDA
funds, and although it made sense to consolidate some functions, he also wanted to respect the
organizations and personnel currently in place. D. Kalisz stated that was impressed with the strategic
plan information provided by DMN and would like to see the DDA do something similar, defining the
board’s vision, mission, strategies, and priorities. D. Alexander of DMN stated that there were two sides
to DDA responsibilities to consider: one was the “hard side” such as facilities and infrastructure, and
the other was the “soft side” which included events, marketing, and social media activities. D. Alexander
stated that if DMN ceased to exist, the soft side activities would as well.
L. Spataro suggested, per opinions expressed by board members, that the DDA stay connected with City
Hall and utilize its staff support. The board would need to consider what they expected from staff and
would need to include staff costs in the budget. Board members concurred that the DDA should pay for
staff services, but were not sure what all staff did for them aside from being at the meetings. F. Peterson
estimated than annual staff costs for the DDA would be around $200,000. L. Spataro observed that there
was consensus from board members about keeping the DDA with the City, having regular meeting dates,
and having city staff keep the board up-to-date on projects. Staff and board members discussed hard vs
soft projects and which ones the DDA wished to be involved with.
D. Alexander discussed the history of the Downtown Muskegon Now organization and its current
responsibilities. Those included economic development, marketing and the promotion of downtown
Muskegon. They also contracted with the BID (Business Improvement District) to accomplish their
duties. He stated that the DMN board supported the consolidation of the 4 organizations currently
involved with the downtown (the City/DDA, Downtown Muskegon Now, BID, and DMDC) and they
understood that DMN would cease to exist once it was absorbed by the city. J. Wallace stated that he
was in favor of combining the DDA and DMN but would like to include more personnel from the DMN
board in the revamped DDA. F. Peterson stated that he thought the state allowed up to 13 DDA board
members, which could allow the city to add two people to the board. He pointed out that several
downtown agencies already had members on both boards. D. Alexander mentioned the possibility of
having subcommittees of the DDA for issues such as events and marketing. J. Riegler stated that DMN
had representatives from the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau and the Community Foundation on their
board, and suggested that representatives from those agencies could serve in an advisory capacity. L.
Spataro stated that it was possible to have people serve in an ad hoc basis. L. Spataro confirmed that
board members concurred with the model that F. Peterson discussed at the previous meeting: The DDA
would hold regularly scheduled monthly meetings; staff would provide regular project updates; the DDA
would take on the Farmer’s Market and the chalets, and the DDA would absorb the responsibilities of
DMN, with that agency ceasing to exist. Discussion continued on those issues. L. Spataro suggested
that a Memorandum of Understanding or a contract outlining expectations be drafted between the City
and the DDA. D. Alexander stated that the DMN board would want to know if the DDA was interested
in taking on the soft items like events and marketing. The DMN Chairman had invited F. Peterson to
their next meeting for further discussion.
Board members agreed that they would hold regular monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of the
month at 10:30 AM. D. Kalisz asked about the next step in the parking structure issue. F. Peterson
stated that it would remain in a holding pattern for now. The main priority of the DDA at this time was
the merger or acquisition of DMN.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 12:06 PM.