The James Street Plaza is planning to have a $2.4 million facelift and a name change to Legacy Park, and it may all come to fruition by the end of next year, if they get funding by Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) from the Federal Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filtered through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
Ludington's DDA currently has 10% of that money in its coffers and is hoping for approval of over $2.1 million from the MEDC when it submits its application by April 1st after having a public hearing on the application for funds at their regularly scheduled meeting on February 10, 2020. On other social media the City has shown their schematic drawings of what the project should look like if the funding is received, we have the diagrams in better detail here and a link to the actual MEDC Grant application. The first is an overhead view:
The second is a skewed bird's-eye-view from different angles:
The third is from a more normal perspective as you approach or move within the 'park':
The application also has a line item budget of the overall projected costs, some more within reason than others:
As the City of Ludington and other sites that have shared the artist's renderings from a distance have asked for impressions and comments, we do too. It would be super if the public could actually share their impressions and comments on what to do with this piece of the downtown before city hall spent many thousands of tax and TIF dollars on a plan that will never be changed despite better ideas coming forth. The West End Project's ultimate failure, ultimate legacy, if you will, is that local common sense and homegrown ideas were never part of the final product.
It looks alright but is it really needed? Parking can be an issue, specially during the summer time with all the fudgies in town, if they put this in how many people will actually use it when there are bigger and better parks available in the community? If a wealthy donor wants to cover the cost of the project instead of the local or federal government than I suppose its worth a look but there is enough tax dollars wasted on projects that in the grand scheme of things are not really needed.
The source for this grant, HUD's CDBG program, states quite clearly:
"The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program requires that each CDBG funded activity must either principally benefit low- and moderate-income (LMI) persons, aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight, or meet a community development need having a particular urgency. Most activities funded by the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program are designed to benefit low- and moderate-income (LMI) persons. This benefit may take the form of housing, jobs, and services. Additionally, activities may qualify for CDBG assistance if the activity will benefit all the residents of a primarily residential area where at least 51 percent of the residents are low- and moderate-income persons."
The application admits no job creation is expected, it's not a housing project, and no new community services will be provided, lest you count the homeless gathering around the firepit-- surely to be harassed by the local gendarmes. It's fluff designed to draw tourists in, and I just don't see the return on investment, when tourists are drawn here from GR, Chicago, and elsewhere for the beach and outdoor adventures.
Putting lipstick on a street right of way ain't likely going to make them give their kiss of approval any more than it impresses the locals not enthralled by the prospect of free money from the federal government.
Good points, Dave, especially about not enough parking. And what about the congestion in that tiny used-to-be street? How many farmer tables will fit in that space and will there be room for people to move around freely? Ludington is overgrowing itself to critical mass, not in a good sense. And why dumping money into this again? Anyone have any idea how many reformations this so-called park has had and how much money has been dumped (not including the fake ice rink that barely got used when it was new and hearing it is gone in the second? Is that true?) Why the big ugly st. Louis arch? Looks like a handle from heaven that could pick the street up and shake it off.
The arch in St. Louis symbolizes it is the 'Gateway to the West'.
The arch at Legacy Park will signal that it is the 'Gateway to the West End' as a project, symbolizing the concept that too many public dollars were used to turn a well utilized area into something less than it was. The splash pad at Copeyon may need one of these arches too.
Thanks for the information X. This would be a major project for a large city but for Ludington it is a ridiculous project proposed by small minded people who happen to have access to other peoples money. Except for a few individuals we appear to have children in charge of running Ludington. Like children, instead of taking care of the necessities they buy toys. Why clean up the bayou when we can have a new shiny cement pad at the beach. Why replace lead piping when we can tear up an existing money pit and replace it with an even more expensive money pit, Legacy Park. From the dog park, to water park, maritime museum, Lud. ave. beach, unneeded fire station, wasteful water tower maintenance, downtown government housing, legacy park, 100 million dollar school debt, both city sponsored marinas, rising water bills, etc, the citizens are being stewed in debt. If the City was not in debt up to their neck and Legacy Park would be paid for by non borrowed private funds and the people could vote on it then that would be fine with me. Nuff said.
I personally dislike the plans for several reasons. #1> this is downtown, the farmers marketplace, not a backyard bbq. If they want to be at a park we have several close to downtown already. Those huge structures like walmart has for pickup, besides being a huge waste of funds, do not block the sun, wind, rain or snow, so what's the point of the eyesore? As a former business owner downtown, I didn't like to see people sitting around, I wanted them shopping. I'd like to see an area of small shop structures (completely removable/ built from lumber with rooves and perhaps the ability to store day to day goods) similar to Chicago's Chriskindlmarket (google it). This would be quaint and visually stunning, and used year round if desired. It is also able to be used 7 days a week and not just 1 day or for booze events, as the square is under utilized now. These structures can be rented for small daily or weekly fees with set hours, adding jobs and opportunities for low income people through sales. Because of the individual artists/ crafter/ farmer aspect, it would not impact downtown businesses, other than becoming a draw for people to come to Ludington/ a destination if marketed properly. It would be an awesome draw in winter when needed if electricity were provided. IMO My vision for the square could be done for a fraction of the amount being asked for, and yes new bathrooms needed, but lets worry about functionality and space, and less about imported marble ffs
What gets me about any of these projects is , OH, it's not tax payers money, it's a Federal Grant of some sort. Who do you think the Federal Government gets its money from, THE TAX PAYERS
I think X said the grant was intended for something like "to meet needs of low to moderate income individuals, help blight situations, or meet an urgent DDA need." I've never seen the city publish this, they just say in general terms that the DDA qualifies. X, could you possibly cut and paste the grant requirements for those of us who dont know where to find that information? For sure, James st. Plaza is not the worst blight in the city, and has received more makeovers than anywhere I can remember. And it certainly doesnt seem like an urgent need. No wonder people are joking about importing homeless into James St plaza to qualify for the grant. While at it the DDA could set up 20 or more raggedy pup tents this winter and take pictures to prove their urgent need.
Kickbacks are too easily built into these "types" of grants at the local level without a lot of transparency to the public they are supposed to serve. That's where the abuse comes in and maybe Gretchen Whitmer has become wise to and has resisted all the funding given in the past to MDEC and Pure Michigan. If this is part of what's going on behind the budget fights, I am happy for her actions and praise the result. Maybe she's been listening to feedback of stories of local abuse of these types of grants and is fighting to not let this money be abused at the local level. The "grant" money would at least be better used in road infrastructure equally divided around the state, if that is possible.
If you open the link to the 2019 Recreation Passport Awards, Ludington was not on the list. Is this the grant that was supposed to fund the splashpad/docks award? If true, Why hasn't the city been open about this before they started working on the splashpad?