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Posted: 01/08/14

DDA to gather input for
2014 goals and projects

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      The Romeo Downtown Development Authority (DDA) wants to kick off the new year with a meeting of the minds.
       DDA Executive Director Judy Sproat said the DDA will start off the year by holding a work session this month with representatives from local government and organizations to establish goals and objectives for the DDA.
       "It's good to start the new year with some consensus on what we would all like to happen in the village for the next 12 months," Sproat said.
       Part of that is to define and budget for infrastructure projects. With the DDA's budget back to its original amount of $213,550, she said the DDA wants to set money aside for aesthetic improvement projects.
       "When I was first hired there may have been upcoming projects we'd have to back off on a little bit, and we won't need to do that now," she said.
       Though she didn't list any specific projects, she said past studies have looked at addressing the other three quadrants similar to how the southwest quadrant was modified to be more pedestrian-friendly.
       The DDA's budget includes funding for traditional tasks the DDA performs, such as decorating for the holidays, planting flowers throughout downtown and money to sponsor events.
       Another objective the meeting will focus on is promoting a positive perception of downtown Romeo. She said it is important for villages to do a good job of branding themselves, so the downtown groups should work together to do just that.
       "Romeo is pretty well-known, particularly the Peach Festival, but I want to broaden that familiarity," she said.
       Specifically, she said the DDA and other groups should capitalize on social media and websites to promote Romeo, and to create a comprehensive marketing plan to promote that branding.
       One way the DDA could accomplish this is Sproat's goal to bring art into downtown Romeo. The Detroit Institute of Arts brought its Inside|Out project to Romeo in 2011 and was well-received, so she hopes to attract more public art projects.
       "I would like to at least start having a conversation about doing some type of public art attraction, especially with such a fine facility like the Starkweather Gallery," she said.
       Along with working to build relationships with local businesses, Sproat said she hopes to empower village stakeholders by having them be directly involved in the DDA.
       The DDA itself has one vacancy on its board. Sproat said anyone who would like to join the board should send a letter of interest to the village president, who recommends appointments to the DDA.


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