Chelsea DDA Holds Work Session

By Seth Kinker,

The Chelsea Downtown Development Authority (CDDA) held a work session August 30 and continued to work on their five-year strategic plan.

CDDA member Doris Galvin put together a guide to be used as a “road map” during the work session. Although non-binding and nothing officially is decided  with the guide, it gives the CDDA direction as to what they need to figure out for the plan such as financial parameters.

Debt payments were priority based on the 2018-19 budget – one of the first things discussed. The guide told when debt installments would fall off and when and how much cash would be available.

Considering debt schedules for the Palmer Lot installment, the Ashwell crossings across main street, the ramp at Purple Rose, just to name a few, the guide, along with estimating how much cash would be available, began the talks on how to use and leverage funds.

Operations and maintenance were one of the next item discussions for the overall strategic plan. City Manager John Hanifan reported that the numbers aren’t audited for this year yet, the fieldwork is completed, and final numbers will be in by a September or October meeting.

Hanifan noted, that for this year, the crux of the issue is short term, finding what funds are available for this year. He noted that one option would be top pay an installment purchase early on the Palmer Lot. With that project on budget, which might reach $125,00 after the planting of trees, Hanifan told the CDDA that if payment is made early it can free up cash or something else.

With $100,00 in interest costs over 20 years, Hanifan noted that the next installment purchase is due Sept. 18.

Another issue discussed as pressing pertained to downtown parking. The DDA has discussed fixing the problematic areas behind downtown storefronts at prior meetings. The CDDA Chair Tim Merkel brought up talks about what could be done in the short term, 2-3 years, until a primary project could be set in motion to resurface the parking lot.

Merkel pointed out that a long-term fix for the municipal lot could lead to a bond issue, which still is well down the road. He asked if there was anything they could do to start figuring out potential costs of that project as well as if there was any groundwork that they could be doing now to prepare for that eventuality.

Hanifan was able to break down what a full reconstruct of the parking lot meant. Whether a half inch or a full eight inches, for example, meant different things. Accessibility standards were discussed at the City Council meeting in July. He said the city uses a contractor and they go street by street assessing problematic areas.

In September, Hanifan said that the City would have information on areas that need attention, such as the lot behind Main street and what their options were. He was quick to point out that the CDDA has a cash flow crunch in the fall with tax bills in the summer plus the Palmer Lot project. He talked about the city staff hearing those problems, knowing the area going uphill in the back alley needs work, along with the main drive into the lot where the dumpster is located.

Just to resurface, for ramp changes an accessibility, could cost anywhere from $750,000 to $1,000,000 according to Hanifan.

The CDDA agreed that a bond will likely be needed for the resurfacing project, the Palmer Lot Project had a 1.9-million-dollar bond for comparison.

Lastly, they discussed Arts and Culture, another topic in their strategic plan. The CDDA agreed that they want Chelsea to be a visual and performing arts community, referencing current projects like murals in the alleys, the culture walk program, and other improvements to the city without a lot of capital spending.

At the next meeting on Sept. 15  the DDA plans to discuss developments.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

Leave a Reply