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You are Viewing an Archived IssuePosted: 03/13/13
DDA recommends Village
Hall stay in downtown
by CHRIS GRAYThe Romeo Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is asking village trustees to keep governmental offices downtown.
Observer Staff Writer
The DDA voted 8-0 on March 6 to recommend the Village Board of Trustees keep the Village Hall where it is, located on W. St. Clair Street, as trustees determine whether to re-locate crucial village operations.
DDA Chairperson Merrick Maris was not present for the meeting.
The village board is examining costs and locations in determining whether the Romeo Police Department should move from its location in downtown to the former WBRW Channel 6 studio on Morton Street.
Last month, discussions led to trustees voting 5-1 to have plans drawn up for using the entire Village Hall as the department's headquarters and re-locating the village offices to the Morton Street location.
Trustees agreed to spending no more than $1,500 to draw up the plans for re-purposing the Village Hall or the fire hall on S. Rawles Street as a police headquarters.
Village President, DDA Liaison and DDA Secretary Mike Lee said he didn't believe it was a good idea since the village offices bring so many people to the downtown area.
"If you eliminate restaurants out of downtown Romeo, I think the most foot traffic is the Village Hall," he said outside of the meeting.
Lee cited the Romeo Blueprints 2006 document provided by Hyett Palma as another reason for keeping the Village Hall in downtown Romeo. The document was created as a guide for officials to use when looking to improve Romeo.
The document lists one of downtown's strengths as having "traditional anchors" like the Village Hall, Kezar Library and Romeo Post Office located in downtown.
"We felt that was a good reason to recommend the Village Hall stay in the central business district," he said.
DDA Vice-chairperson Randy Seidel agreed it is important for the Village Hall to stay downtown. He said it's tough, though, to have the discussions without knowing costs.
"My biggest question is how much money is there to move all these people around without making cuts," he said.
DDA Treasurer Carol Humphreys said as a downtown merchant she believes it's important the department stay downtown for security reasons.
"We know that it's a visual from the bars that people may behave more accordingly if they see something in eyesight," she said.
The decision carries with it more than moving operations. The police department recently purchased a much-needed upgrade to its 911 system, but if the system needs to be moved from the current location it would cost up to $10,000.
In choosing to evaluate the alternate locations, the board caused the police department to miss the deadline for a $22,000 grant that would've paid for ballistics gear and cameras if the department received it.
In February, trustees said they heard comments about the police department already being in a good location as part of their justification for expanding it to the entire Village Hall.
"The police department needs more space," said Trustee Matt Edwards.
Trustee Bob Hart said the Morton Street facility would make sense for the village offices by having more room for board meetings and being close to the Community Center.
"That's pretty typical to other communities," he said.
At the meeting, Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said the Morton Street location would allow for a larger police station that could expand department operations to cover the area beyond Romeo if need be.
"In five or six years out, if we're able to service our neighboring communities with police service, it's just something you can prepare yourself to do in the studio better than you could in the current location," she said. "It's a financial thing that (the board) will have to figure out."