DDA wants more time
MANISTIQUE – The Downtown Development Authority heard updates on several projects during a recent meeting. Members also decided to officially request extending the life of the authority in order to complete one project in particular.
The DDA had originally sought a $7 million grant from the Michigan Waterways Commission in 2008 to pay for river and harbor dredging, upgrades to the west side boat launch, and various improvements to the marina. Eventually, the DDA split the request to fund specific projects.
Marina upgrades were split into several projects that would span nearly 10 years. The DDA plans to request grant money for each project. Phase one of the project, dredging the river and harbor, was completed in 2010. Phase two includes new broadside docking along the river’s edge to accommodate larger vessels, a new harbor master building, fuel station, and vessel pump-out facility. Future phases will include the replacement of bin walls, the installation of floating piers, and access and parking improvements.
As with the boat launch, the DDA will be responsible for half of the marina project’s approximately $1.6 million cost. In 2010, members voted to postpone work on the boat launch, asking for a two-year extension on the funding received, and saving those match funds for the marina project. The remainder of the money needed to match will be acquired through bonds.
In order to acquire these bonds, the life of the DDA will need to be expanded, explained Chairperson Rick Demers.
“It’s been a topic of discussion for the past two years,” he said. “We have been approved for funding of the second and third phase of this project which requires a match from us. With the time the DDA has left there is no way we can bond and repay that amount of debt without an extension. The funds are available now, and if we pass on the grant, odds are we will not get a second chance. With the condition of our marina it is a chance we just cannot afford to take.”
Currently, the authority is set to expire in 2018 – 30 years after it was first established. To make the upgrades to the marina, the city council will need to vote to allow the authority to expand beyond this. According to Demers, the extension process is relatively simply if the boundaries the authority uses for its tax capture are not changed – something the DDA does not intend to do. The DDA captures approximately $500,000 in taxes each year from the properties it encompasses.
City Manager and DDA member Sheila Aldrich explained that city council members will be meeting with the DDA, along with bonding attorney Miller Canfield, to discuss their options.
“What they (Miller Canfield) will do is go through the process to complete the project,” she said. “They will put together a plan of how much the DDA wants to borrow and how long they will need to pay it off. That amount of time to pay it off would determine the length of the extension.”
Aldrich added the group will be meeting within the next week, and will then be presented at an upcoming city council meeting.