By Pat Maurer
The Clare City Commission approved a resolution Monday evening that sets in motion the elimination of the Clare Main Street Program.
“This is a sad day [for the city],” Commissioner Tom Koch said, “But we had to come to this conclusion. It just wasn’t working for us.” He said the program will be terminated at the end of the year.
City Manager Ken Hibl said the Main Street/Downtown Development Authority Board had voted for disenrollment from the Main Street Program. “We are putting together a working group to determine how we can save the events Main Street has developed,” he said.
Koch, who said he has been a board member since the DDA “came on board” with the Main Street group, said, “What we have tried to do is to determine the good things we can save and then go back to being the DDA, and continuing with their traditional function and promote the downtown area.”
In his report, Hibl said the City has been a “selected Main Street Community” for eight years and has been a Master Level Main Street Community (one of only seven) for the past three years. He said the primary funding source to operate the Main Street Program is DDA tax revenues, which do not cover the approximate annual cost of $60,000. State requirements of the program include a full-time Main Street Manager, which is the largest part of the costs, Hibl said. He reported that “Fundraising efforts including new programs and events have not been sufficient to offset decreasing DDA tax revenues.”
Current projects of the Main Street Program include the Summer Concert Series, the Farmers Market, the Old US-27 Tour overnight stop, the Main Street Spook-Tacular, the Farm and Arts Market, Clare Pumpkin Run, Wayfinding Signage Project, and the Tree Light Replacement Project. Hibl said the work group will attempt to find other organizations to continue these events.
Hibl also reported in a positive note, that fundraising efforts to replace the City’s downtown tree lights had been very successful. “The lights were approximately 20 years old and far beyond their anticipated useful life,” Hibl reported. He said DDA members Gus Jelenek, Al Iacco and Vince Demasi had garnered more than $8,000 in pledges and donations from the businesses and community members. The cost to replace the lights with new LED lights is approximately $9,700, he said. “We will commence installation of the new tree lights this week,” he wrote.
Hibl also said a letter had been drafted and sent requesting that Clare be included in a new Michigan Municipal League program, PlacePlans that would provide free technical assistance to develop the project to complete the Pere Marquette Rail Trail through the City and relocate and renovate the old Clare Railroad Depot as a community center. The MIPlace Partnership includes the MML; Michigan State University’s School of Planning, Design and Construction; and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA).
Five communities will be chosen in the first round this fall.
Other business at the Clare City meeting Monday included:
*Approval of incumbent candidates to the MML Liability & Property pool Board of Directors,
*Approval of a proposal to have Gourdie Fraser and Associates complete the Water Reliability Study,
*Approval of a resolution recognizing Clare Rocket Football as a community nonprofit organization, and
*Hearing a presentation by incumbent Circuit Court Judge Roy Mienk, who is running for re-election in November.