Goals in focus at Escanaba DDA

ESCANABA – Goals for the Escanaba Downtown Development Authority (DDA) were recently announced and reflect projects already in place or in the works.

“Looking at our goals and objectives, we’re pretty much continuing on what we’re working on now,” commented DDA Director Judy Schroeder.

During last week’s regular DDA meeting, the agency’s goals for 2013 were outlined. The 10 goals include projects already underway such as continuing curb repairs in the DDA district and doing regular maintenance of DDA-controlled parking lots, said Schroeder.

The DDA will also continue to look at acquiring property as well as consider the streetscape along Ludington Street, she added. Meetings for development of Ludington Street between Stephenson and Sixth streets are planned to begin in the spring.

Business owners will be encouraged to participate in the DDA facade improvement grant program which has been available in downtown Escanaba the past few years. This year’s program included seven facades costing $253,089 including a local match of $63,089, reported Schroeder.

More recent objectives which the DDA has been supporting include the weed control project at the Escanaba Marina and the designation of the downtown on the National Register of Historic Places, said Schroeder.

A DDA goal discussed within the past year is the development of a weatherization program for downtown commercial buildings. The DDA proposes to help finance energy audits of buildings selected for the program yet to be drafted, she explained.

Two on-going projects discussed at last week’s’ DDA meeting included the replacement of street corner signs along Ludington Street and plans for a year-around farmers market facility.

The city was informed the current signs at street corners along the mainstreet need to be upgraded to comply with requirements of the Michigan Department of Transportation. Meiers Signs, the lone bidder on the project, will be replacing them.

Discussion occurred at the meeting regarding an indoor/outdoor farmers market with a retail incubator to house beginning businesses. The DDA is considering construction of a building at the present farmers market property or renovating an existing building downtown, explained Schroeder.

DDA projects completed in 2012 included curb and sidewalk repairs, landscaping, downtown marketing and event sponsorship, a new overhead sign at Lincoln and Ludington, DDA parking lot maintenance, a downtown clean-up program, website improvements, and a large-scale chess game at center court.