West Leonard Downtown District
415 Leonard Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 451-0150


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West Leonard Business Association Business Meeting

June 15, 2010
Meeting Minutes
West Grand Neighborhood Organization 415 Leonard Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Current Board Members
Board officers: Present
Johnny Brann – President, Brann’s Steakhouse & Grille
Sue McKey – Vice President, The Shade Shop
Mark Alcock – Treasurer, Mercantile Bank
Jane Grischke – Secretary, Community Organizer West Grand Neighborhood Organization

Board Members: Present
Absent - Dave Shaffer – Grand Rapids City Commissioner,5/3 Bank Branch Manager
Dick Szymanski – Jedco
Jody Haan - Walgreens Store Manager
Sean Ellis – Southland Auto Wash
Jon O’Connor – West Michigan Appraisers, WGNO Board President, GRPS Board of Education member

Members Present
Clare Carbonaso – intern for Grand Rapids Hopper
Nola Steketee – WGNO
Jim Hale – Vantage Pointe Financial
Rhoda Belden – Belden Brick and Supply
Tom Warwick – Grand Rapids Police Department
Dan Myers – Grand Rapids Police Department
Ed Ladwig – Wengers
Dan DeVries – DeVries Jewelers
Kyle Van Strien – WGNO Board
Cathy Zyskowski – West Side Fitness
Jim Joyce – Mieras Shoes

Call to order 8:35 am
Review of Minutes – Sue McKey made a motion to accept – Jim Hale seconded the motion – motion passed, 8 yeas - 0 nays
Treasurer’s Report - $20.00 added to the balance due to membership, current balance $4041.64. Johnny passed over an envelope with other memberships to be added to the next treasurer’s report. Jon O’Connor made a motion to accept the treasurer’s report – Dick Szymanski seconded the motion – motion passed, 8 yeas – 0 nays.

Committee Updates

1. Mobile Watch
Johnny Brann received great press during the month of June when he took City Commissioners Dave Shaffer and Walt Gutowski out on Mobile Watch. Channels 17 and 13 were on hand to do a spot during the news on the importance of how neighborhoods and businesses were taking a stand against crime. Nola stated that three radio stations also reported this as a great event. The positive press was an asset for West Leonard Business Association (WLBA) Nola stated she would be having the next Mobile Watch Training on Thursday June 17th, with a reschedule on Tuesday June 22nd, 2010. If this didn’t work for everyone, she was willing to do a one on one training at your convenience. Sgt. Maycroft from GRPD would be holding the second class at the GRPD at a later date still to be determined. Also, Nola stated that other business districts and neighborhoods were interested in starting up Mobile Watches in their selected areas. Jane said she was having a great time doing her share, and that residents have shown a positive response to the attention given in the neighborhoods.

2. Events
Cathy Zuskowski is planning a 5k run through the west side streets. These events will be quarterly and the goal is to promote the west side, and the West Leonard Business District Corridor and surrounding businesses.
  • Nola is going to bring in the “walking wheel” to measure a route that would end up at Richmond Park
  • Richmond Park would be the end of the race, the party area for residents and businesses, and create a common ground for booths and tables. There will be a cost for all booths and tables to provide the participants a chance to have a vested interest in this event, while also fundraising for the association.
  • Lt. Dean from the Grand Rapids Police Department is the officer in charge of special events, and works with the city in securing the closing of streets and adding the needed officers for this event. It was suggested by Officer Dan Meyers to contact him as soon as possible because he has a serious family issue that makes it hard to get in touch with him, and the sooner we contact him, the better the chances are that all of our needs are met in a timely manner.
  • Cathy has two interns who are working on the marketing for this event.
  • Banners, Sponsored Mile Makers, T-Shirts, and other Business paraphernalia are welcome to promote businesses and WLBA. Examples: cups, water bottles, t-shirts, mouse pads, etc.

3. Events
Nola, the Art Prize Street Party. Nadia stated it would be the Thursday during Art Prize. It is a tentative idea that it will take place on Seward. It was originally stated that all street parties had a budget of $10,000.00, however by now it is possible that it is being scaled down. Several businesses in the area have been asked to sponsor this event; Belden Brink was one of them. It is believed that the event could reach out one block in any direction of Alpine and Leonard Street. This Street Party, and the Art Prize event are great opportunities for the business district as a whole, and we should all take part in it as much as possible

4. Area Plan
Johnny Brann stated that he is, along with City Commissioner Dave Shaffer and Andy Guy working hard to create a plan that would coincide with the master plan. Also Dave Shaffer has reserved several trees to be planted along the Leonard Street Corridor and the surrounding business areas. The City would remove a square, plant the tree, and then place a grate around the tree. Each business would be responsible for watering the trees. Dick Szymanski asked who was going to be responsible to trim the trees. Ed Ladwig wants thirty of them to be planted alongside the railroad tracks facing the strip mall. Planting flowers in a uniform manner alongside all to the trees would add walkability, strengthen the flow of traffic, and make the corridor look inviting for potential consumers. Furthermore, we are hoping that by creating this area plan, we would bring in potential business partners into the vacant properties and create a walkable, stable, and economical environment for our business district. Examples of area plans – Wealthy Street and Standale. On the Standale website they talk about walkability, inviting storefronts, angles of sidewalks, consistent businesses, bus stops, students, and parking. This is also evident when you look at Wealthy Street. Grand Valley State University invites business and housing contacts to an event that tells students what is available to them. Cathy Zuskowski stated that she participates in this event and it is a good way to get students to come to your businesses. Johnny Brann stated that Dyer Ives is also interested in funding our area plan.

5. Business Block Captains
All block reports are due the 3rd Monday of every month. Basically the block captain is responsible for walking the block and noticing potential violations, areas of concern, or issues that need to be addressed by business owners or the business district. Everyone is invited to join the group of block captains, and we are encouraging businesses and owners to participate. The goal of this committee is to join forces in making our streets walkable, inviting, and showing potential customers that we care about our neighborhoods, our businesses, and we care about that potential consumer that would like to stop in. Possible violations could be peeling paint, weeds, snow on the sidewalks, or overgrown grass. Dick Szymanski stated that 1750 Elizabeth just doesn’t care; he has had graffiti on his building for several weeks, and refused any help what so ever to clean it up. (In fact, Jane has called in this address at least three weeks ago, and has noticed that it hasn’t been cleaned up as of yet.) Johnny offered to go and paint it, even if Ben had to do it the dark of the night. The entire board laughed… Officer Dan Meyers – turned a deft ear.

6. Joint Marketing
http://leonardst.org Sean Ellis stated that the website is up and running – they are working on content right now. The businesses are encouraged to email their information to Sean Ellis at sellis@southlandautowash.com or Johnny Brann at johnnybrannjr@branns.com so that there businesses are linked to the website. Sean also added that the website could use a graphic designer, and it would only take about an hour to give that site unforgettable features, so that people would continue to stop by and utilize the greatness of our district. Also, Sean is seeking a cost analysis to redo the logo for quality. It was then suggested that maybe we visit new logo ideas as well. Sean agreed to ask his person to give us a quote for that as well.

7. Joint Marketing - Jim Joyce, Mieras Shoes. Sidewalk days, July 29, 30, 31. He is encouraging all businesses to get involved with this and make sure they have contacted him so that they can be included in the marketing campaign. Also this is a good time to encourage the Farmer’s Market to bring extras and for self-promotion on Thursday July 29, 2010. Jane is to create a flier for the market and make sure that all businesses receive one if they want it for display purposes.

8. NBA – Dick Szymanski – no one showed up for the meeting.

9. Public Safety – Officer Dan Myers, Grand Rapids Police Department. Wanted to say thank you from the GRPD to our City Commissioners for participating in a Mobile Watch ride along. Lt. Dean, GRPD is the contact person for special events. Officer Tom Warwick will be joining the SWAN Neighborhood as their community officer. WGNO will have Officer Al Ort as their community officer. With the changes at the Police Department, we will be noticing the new position that was opened up on the North West side business district and be addressed by Officer Dan Myers. This means that we now have four Community Officers concentrating in the North West area. WLBA and WGNO thanked Officer Myers for his work during his time as Community Officer for our area.

10. West Grand Neighborhood Organization – Nola Steketee, Executive Director. WMEAC received a grant to give away “Green, energy efficient” light bulbs to residents in the WGNO boundaries. This project is giving out entire household of bulbs to selected residents who will agree to share their electric bills for three months. Other residents were given out 2 to 4 bulbs to share the greatness of going green. Chili Cook- Off is in August this year. It will be called Steepletown Festival. The cook-off will have two categories. The 9-1-1 category which is between the GRPD and GRFD and emergency response / EMT, and a second category that will be between residents. Furthermore, the two winners will be asked to join the winner of The Cottage Bar Chili Cook- Off, on the “You’re the Chef Show” and compete for the “World’s Greatest Chili”.

11. New / Old Business – Sue McKey talked about having the parking spaces painted. Johnny Brann said he would look into it.

Meeting adjourned 10:00 am