Traverse City News and Events

State Street Cleanup, Strategic Planning, New Operations Coordinator on City Agenda

By Beth Milligan | Feb. 5, 2024

Traverse City commissioners will vote tonight (Monday) on approving contractors and funding agreements for demolition and clean-up work on multiple properties on West State and Pine streets that are the planned site of a future mixed-use parking deck. The work, covered by a $900,000 state grant, is expected to start this spring. Commissioners tonight will also discuss an upcoming strategic planning process and filling the new role of city clerk operations coordinator.

State Street Demolition/Clean-Up
Building demolition and clean-up work will soon start on four downtown properties in preparation for a planned future new mixed-use parking deck. Work is expected to begin in March at 115 Pine Street (formerly Master Dry Cleaners), 126 West State Street (formerly the Paulos/Buchan property), 122 West State Street (formerly RSF Holdings), and 120 West State Street (formerly RSF Holdings).

The Traverse City Downtown Development Authority (DDA) received a $900,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) for demolition and clean-up work on the sites. Commissioners tonight will vote on beginning the first phase of work: asbestos abatement and removal of the existing buildings from the sites. Those contracts are for $129,424 with Taplin Enterprises for abatement and $111,500 with Pitsch Companies for demolition, for total costs of $240,924. Those costs are higher than initial estimates, but EGLE approved contingency funds in the grant that will cover the shortfall.

The remainder of the grant will go toward environmental clean-up on the properties once the buildings are removed. The DDA hopes to eventually build a long-discussed third public downtown parking deck on West State Street as part of a mixed-use development that could include hundreds of public parking spaces, housing, and retail space. DDA and city commission leaders are expected to get final cost estimates on the deck in the coming weeks.

Several steps are still needed before construction can begin, including bonding the project and extending the DDA’s TIF 97 plan – with the latter two steps subject to potential referendums. The DDA board and city commission are expected to vote on the TIF plan extension this spring. As part of the process leading up to those votes, a Development Area Citizen Council – a state-required board of citizens who live within the TIF district and must review the new TIF plan – will meet for the first time Wednesday at 7pm at the Governmental Center.

According to DDA CEO Jean Derenzy, the demolition and clean-up work is eligible to be completed with the grant funding even if the TIF extension fails and/or a new deck ultimately isn’t constructed. The clean-up work will allow the city to address known environmental contamination on the sites and put the properties to some other use in the future if the deck project doesn’t proceed.

Strategic Planning
City Manager Liz Vogel will give an overview tonight to commissioners on a proposed strategic planning process that will help develop a five-year plan for Traverse city – something Vogel says is “crucial for the continued growth and development of our city.”

Vogel is recommending using a request-for-proposals (RFP) to find a professional firm to lead the city through the process. “We believe that bringing in specialized expertise will enhance our ability to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” she wrote in a memo to commissioners, adding that a professional firm can offer “experience, innovation, and fresh perspectives that can contribute to the development of a robust and forward-thinking strategic plan.”

The planning process would include an internal analysis of the city’s organizational structure, an external analysis of the ”economic, social, and environmental landscape in Traverse City,” engagement with stakeholders, a community survey, and goal setting with commissioners that is “aligned with the aspirations of residents,” according to presentation materials prepared by Vogel. Outcomes of the strategic planning process will include action plans with “specific initiatives, projects, and timelines,” ongoing monitoring of key performance metrics, a community dashboard/scoreboard, and a framework for future updates to the plan, according to the presentation materials.

If supported by commissioners, Vogel would issue the RFP with a deadline for submissions of March 1. She would then bring back a recommended contract for approval by commissioners, with strategic planning work to begin in late spring/early summer.

City Clerk Operations Coordinator
Finally, commissioners tonight will vote on authorizing a new city position to be filled, called the city clerk operations coordinator. The position was included in the fiscal year 2023-24 budget. According to a memo from Human Resources Director Kristine Bosley, the city clerk’s office oversees a number of increasing responsibilities including “elections, risk management, final financial disbursement oversight for all city and Traverse City Light and Power funds, licensing, governance, (and) communications,” among others.

The city clerk operations coordinator will take on responsibilities in some of those categories. Those will include risk management (monitoring and reviewing documents to ensure required insurance is in place to insulate the city from risk) and licensing (serving as the point of contact for a variety of licensing categories and approvals, with the city recently adding over 1,600 hours annually in legally required licensing oversight). The coordinator will also serve as the team lead for absentee voting activities and coordinate several temporary voter participation specialists, as well as coordinate all aspects of the city “board appointment process, including interviews, screening applications, beginning-to-end communication with volunteers, and assisting with onboarding,” according to Bosley.

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