GREENVILLE — Seven months after initially giving approval, a final decision now nears regarding adding a historical element to downtown.
During Tuesday’s Greenville Downtown Development Authority (DDA) meeting, members of the DDA discussed the progress of interpretive signs to be placed in the downtown district.
Throughout the past several months, members of the Flat River Historical Society and Museum have been working with Greenville resident Ryan Lee, a designer and senior associate with KPMG in Grand Rapids, who is volunteering his time to design the signs, to create final designs for four signs.
According to DDA Chairman David Ralph, decisions could potentially be made by May.
“We do not have final designs on signs just yet, Ryan had to step away for a bit,” he said. “There’s a little more work that needs to be done on that.”
Ralph did present official designs and estimates for the DDA to review from two companies regarding the sign base designs. Ralph received estimates from two companies — Fossil Industries of New York and Izone Imaging of Texas — but he stressed that the totals presented were not necessarily accurate in regards to the DDA’s request.
The DDA voted last September to spend no more than $5,000 on four signs; however, Ralph said the estimates reflect anywhere from six to eight signs.
DDA members reviewed three sign base variations from each company, including single post and double post pedestals, and cantilever supports.
Fossil’s highest estimate came in at $3,156 for a half-inch panel on a double post pedestal design, while Fossil’s lowest was $3,028 for half inch panel on either the single post pedestal and cantilever support.
Izone’s highest estimate was $1,469.84 for a half-inch panel on a double post pedestal, while Izone’s lowest was $993.28 for an eighth-inch panel in a mounted frame.
DDA members expressed a general preference to go with a half-inch thickness with panels, citing it as a sturdier option.
DDA member Tim Mulcahy asked City Manager George Bosanic if he would anticipate any issues regarding potential vandalism of the signs. Mulcahy referenced the city of Lowell, which also has historical signs.
“Do you think Greenville’s going to encounter more vandalism than Lowell?” he asked.
“I know so,” Bosanic said. “We’ll have to make sure we pour a good, solid base at the bottom. But my concern isn’t the strength of the posts, it’s the point where the plaque meets the post.
Ralph said both companies claim the signs are designed to be resistant to vandals. Bosanic said a vandal-resistant design is comforting, but not a guarantee.
“It’s kind of like water proof or water resistance with a phone. There’s a big difference,” he said.
Bosanic said he would also like to reach out to other communities in Michigan that have worked with Fossil or Izone, to see how the signs are holding up over time.
No decisions were made at the meeting in regards to the signs.
“We should have everything we need in terms of design by the next meeting,” Ralph said.
The DDA also discussed the possibility of extending the expiration of the tax increment financing (TIF) district, which funds the DDA.
The TIF district is set to expire in 2022, the same year when the final bond payment is due on the downtown streetscape. That factor led the DDA to postpone discussions on exploring the potential installation of a canopy over and reconstruction of Lafayette Park.
“It has been determined that we really can’t pursue financial planning on that until we discuss first the possibility of extending the life of the DDA TIF plan,” Bosanic said.
According to Bosanic, the DDA can decide to extend the TIF plan for additional years if it chooses to do so. The authorities that are involved in the district include the city, Montcalm County and Montcalm Community College.
“The DDA, through the city, can extend the life of the plan, and require the taxing authorities to be on board,” Bosanic said. “But what I would still suggest strongly because they are our partners … is to talk to those tax authorities and explain what we are doing. We are investing and re-investing, in that tax base, so it (downtown) doesn’t decline over time. Regardless of what the law is, they are our partners.”
The DDA reached a consensus to add extending the expiration of the TIF district as an official discussion item on future meeting agendas.