An outpouring of shock and grief - as well as glowing words of support and praise - accompanied the sudden passing of Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Executive Director Bryan Crough Sunday evening of a massive heart attack. Crough, 59, had served in his position since 1990 and is credited with helping lead the revitalization of downtown Traverse City.
"It will take me a while to get my head around the idea that the man who built downtown Traverse City is no longer with us," said City Manager Ben Bifoss in an emailed statement.
A tireless advocate of the arts, Crough championed innumerable cultural projects and improvements to downtown during his tenure, including Friday Night Live, the City Opera House, the History Center, and the State Theatre (which changed its marquee Monday to read: "Bryan Crough - When We Look Down This Street We'll Always See You"). Under his watch, the city's two downtown parking decks were constructed, Tax Increment Financing was introduced and a handful of key developments brought new life to downtown, including Radio Center, River's Edge and 101 Park Street.
"(Bryan) never stopped fighting for a better downtown," the DDA said in a written statement yesterday, noting that the director was "a constant source of inspiration to the staff here."
In addition to his contributions at the DDA - for which he was awarded the Lyle DeYoung Downtown Achievement award in 2005 - Crough left his mark in many other areas of the community. A former Traverse City mayor and commissioner, Crough served as president of the Traverse City Rotary Club and was a board member at the Old Town Playhouse and the Traverse City Arts Council.
Another of Crough's achievements - his advocacy for funding the Clinch Park improvements currently underway along the bayfront - will be marked with a ribbon cutting ceremony unveiling the revitalized park next Tuesday, June 25, at 11 a.m.
"Unfortunately, Bryan will not be there to celebrate with us," said the DDA in its statement. "But we will surely celebrate him and the wonderful legacy he left us all."