Friday morning before the Memorial Day weekend marked the first public meeting of the city council’s so-called “mutually beneficial” committee – first created and appointed back in July 2009.
And later in the afternoon, the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority met for a retreat to give direction to its own “mutually beneficial” committee.
The two committees are charged with the task of redefining the agreement between the city and the DDA that allows the DDA to manage the city’s parking system.
From the city councilmembers’ perspective, the ball was in the DDA’s court. They were hoping that the DDA’s retreat later in the day would reduce the items on the term sheet that is supposed to underpin the city-DDA conversation.
At their retreat, the DDA board did eliminate an item on the term sheet – code enforcement, other than parking regulations, was not something for which they wanted to assume responsibility. The remaining three term sheet items – parking enforcement, provision of services, and development of city-owned property – stayed on the white board. The clearest consensus among board members seemed to be around the idea that the DDA should focus on development.
But a couple of additional items were added into the mix – issues related to Village Green’s City Apartments project. That project, located at First and Washington, has previously seen its site plan approval option to purchase extended through June 30, 2010. City council action would be required in the next month, if it’s to be extended again.
Downtown police beat patrols were also left on the board as an additional item of discussion.
At Friday’s retreat, the board heard the same message from Susan Pollay, the DDA’s executive director, that she’d conveyed at a partnerships committee meeting two weeks earlier – the reason for the DDA’s existence was to spur private investment in the downtown.
But as a group, there was an uneven embrace of that message. Some board members preferred to identify “development” as meaning something broader than building new infrastructure, suggesting that a more general “economic development” approach might also be appropriate for the DDA.
And one other idea was thrown up on the white board, but did not stick: altering the DDA district boundaries.