DDA to plan strategic planning meeting

ALPENA — The Alpena Downtown Development Authority is going to begin the process of scheduling a strategic planning meeting, to help set goals and initiatives for downtown.

At Tuesday’s DDA meeting, Executive Director Anne Gentry said the bylaws called for a strategic meeting once a year and asked the board when the last one was held.

President Mike Mahler said the last one was in either 2015 or 2016 and agreed it is time to have one.

Mahler said he believed having the special meeting annually was too often because for some projects it takes longer than a year to complete. He said the last time one was held, a facilitator needed to be hired to lead the meeting and it was a long process and expensive.

“I think having it once a year is excessive and overkill,” Mahler said. “It is a big deal to get organized. I think when we have a strategic meeting we can discuss changing the bylaws.”

A strategic meeting is used to set goals for the DDA and the businesses downtown. Mahler said those include shor-term, mid-term and long-term goals and plans.

“We also use it to prioritize various projects,” he said.

A date for the meeting has not been set, but Mahler said it is likely that DDA committee members also will participate in it.

In other business:

∫ letters are being sent to downtown business owners informing them on how snow will be removed this winter. Gentry said businesses will get 48 hour notice to deposit built-up snow in front of their stores and push it into the street for the city to remove.

∫ the board is considering what to do with the dated “Welcome to Old Town” Alpena sign on Second Avenue. The concrete base of the sign is nearing disrepair and the wooden sign needs repainting. According to board member Todd Britton repairs to the concrete could cost thousands of dollars to repair. Business owners near the sign are split on the issue, as some want it removed and others want it to remain and updated. No decision on the issue was made.

∫ the DDA is looking for a new vendor to purchase decorative flower baskets for next year. The board was unhappy with the quality of the flowers this summer and intends to look for another option.

∫ Gentry said this year’s Christmas parade was a success and businesses reported there was a lot of foot traffic before and after the event. Mahler said business owners told him Black Friday shopping downtown also was strong.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.