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Master Plan DDA’s main priority

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Updating the City’s Master Plan continues to be a main focus of the members of the New Buffalo Downtown Development Authority.

At their Thursday, Nov. 10, meeting, Chair Robert Kemper urged everyone to visit the City’s website to take a look at the draft Master Plan, which was put together by the City’s Planning Commission and the consulting firm Houseal Lavigne Associates (HLA). He said that there was still time for them to submit comments with regards to how they think it should be improved, and that they would be bringing these comments soon to the Planning Commission. Kemper said he hoped to bring comments to them by next month. DDA members should submit their comments to either Planning Commission Chair Pat Fisher or Mel Valiquett, who is serving as the official liaison between them and the Commission.

Board members reviewed the results of the Master Plan workshop, which had taken place Monday, Nov. 7, at the New Buffalo Senior High School cafeteria. Joe Lindsay, who serves on the communications subcommittee, reported that the answers from participants over what were the key issues facing New Buffalo were reflected in the next day’s election results, as everyone agreed that infrastructure and the revitalization of the downtown were the most important. Residents approved a $4 million bond referendum, which will help pay for improving the streets, at the polls the following day.

Speaking on revitalizing the downtown, Ellie Mullins, who serves as chair of the design/visual impact (DVI) subcommittee, agreed that they should begin publicizing images of what subcommittee members thought the downtown should look like in the newspaper or on the DDA’s Facebook page. She emphasized that the group desires to give the downtown a “beachy” and organic feel, and to “bring the beach to the downtown.”

Economic Business Development (EBD) Chair Doug Roch gave an update on the group’s last meeting, which he said focused on parking in downtown. He said that they were working on a map that gave an overview of the Central Business District, where they could pinpoint “different parking solutions” throughout the District. Meetings of the EBD as well as the DVI take place the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at City Hall.

EBD member and New Buffalo Business Association Executive Director Cathi Rogers reminded Board members of the City’s upcoming holiday festivities Saturday, Nov. 26, which was also Shop Small Saturday. She said she had contacted American Express, the founders of Small Business Saturday, and that they were sending them materials to help educate New Buffalo businesses on ways to take advantage of their small business and invited DDA members to join her. She said that they’ve already written a letter to send to the businesses to engage them.

Also at the meeting, Kemper thanked the City’s parks and beach department on keeping their beaches in top shape.

“It’s the best it’s been in long time,” he said, and urged Board members to drive around it to see for themselves.

Kemper did draw attention to the Porta Potty that currently sits beside the restrooms, which Streets Superintendent Tony Ashbaugh confirmed was open throughout the winter months when the restrooms were closed, calling it “ugly.” He also inquired if there was a “better way” to cover the equipment down by the beach other than with duct tape and garbage bags, suggesting putting bags over them instead. Ashbaugh said he would look into it.

“Those little visual details make a gigantic difference – all those things really help,” Kemper said.

Board members approved the payment of a New Buffalo Times invoice for ads of $710 and a $392.92 payment to Kemper, who had used the money to pay for an ad in Harbor Country News.