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

July 20, 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
Dave Shaffer – Grand Rapids City Commissioner,5/3 Bank Branch Manager
Jody Haan - Walgreens Store Manager

Members Present
Nola Steketee – WGNO
Jim Hale – Vantage Pointe Financial
Cathy Zyskowski – West Side Fitness
Andye Razmus – West Side Fitness
Jim Joyce – Mieras Shoes
Chad Miller – Walgreens
Kevan Grinwis – Eagle’s Nest Church
Dan Grinwis – Oasis of Hope Center
Bridgette Vjlaky – Horizen Hydroponics
Pat Conkright – Beldon Brick
Nikkie Haan – WGNO Intern
Alan Ort – Grand Rapids Police Department, Community Officer
Rebecca Whitman – Grand Rapids Police Department, Captain of the West Team

Call to order 1:35 pm
Review of Minutes – Jody Haan, made a motion to accept – Jane Grischke seconded the motion – motion passed, 5 yeas – 0 nays.
Treasurer’s Report – Three deposits were made, Association Dues, Art Addiction, WLBA Directory Ad(s) – Mieras Shoes, and Jack’s Service Center, $150.00. No monies were paid out for expenses. Total balance on hand as of 6/30/2010 is $4,191.64. Jane Grischke made a motion to accept the treasurer’s report – Nola Steketee seconded the motion – motion passed, 5 yeas – 0 nays.
Other Business Not On the Agenda –
Rob VerHeulen, Mayor for the City of Walker. Rob is running for the State Representative 86th District (Republican). For more information on his platform, go to www.RobVerHeulen.com
Committee Updates
1. Mobile Watch. Nola will start training for anyone who would like to participate in Mobile Watch. This has been a real asset to the community and businesses as a whole. Call Nola, she will be flexible with your time frame, and this can be done in a few hours. Jody Haan offered that we should be calling Nola at 451-0150 by Friday, and asking to be put on the schedule for that weekend. Nola stated that this is a summer program, and we are making a difference out there. We have two, three hour shifts, on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 9:00 pm and ending at 3:00 am. Nola further stated that there has been positive feedback.
2. Events. Cathy Zuskowski – is still working on the 5k run through our city streets.
Discussion – Nola once more offered to bring in her walking wheel to measure the distance. Cathy is weighing the pros and cons of where it starts and where it ends. Captain Whitman stated that it was important to hold the event in your neighborhood, where your community is a supportive force in your event. Todd Tofferi needs to be contacted for all information on closing streets, and providing the needed officers for the day. Ideas for booths could be sponsored by individual businesses on the Leonard Street and Alpine Ave. This could include such things as face painting, promotional advertisements, and raffles, also it was brought up to have a card bingo where every booth visited would be stamped and after your card was full you would be entered into a drawing. Other ideas were bands, barbeques, food tents, etc. All the permits would or should be included into the City Packet. These are just ideas… Furthermore, it was discussed that we could use whatever we decided to do as a fundraiser of sorts. All permits needed would be in the city packet, and this was indeed a great way to promote our individual businesses, the business district, the neighborhood, and our community.
3. Events – Dave Shaffer talked about a school parade, on Leonard (and Covell) and this could benefit both projects (the one above) if it could merge with the above plans and make it a community event. His proposed date for this, September 11, 2010. His focus: people living in the neighborhood, shopping locally, showcase the neighborhood, etc.
4. Area Plan – Dave Shaffer talked about changing the face of West Leonard by adding trees, changing the walkability and increasing business throughout the district. Dave talked about getting a grant through Dyer-Ives, for the trees and maybe some banners. It was also brought up that West Grand would be doing a Safe Routes to School grant, which would change Leonard Street by also increasing walkability. We still have a long way to go, however Dave spoke about bump outs, bike paths, and feasibility of such plans. A meeting was held with the City, and they were going to do a study of making changes, the cost, etc. Also, this would be a good time, interjected Mr. Brann, to change the logo, name, and add a better joint marketing campaign to make WLBA a part of downtown. Cathy Zyskowski stated that she tells clients that she is only five minutes from downtown, and it does make a difference.
5. Business Block Captains – A presentation was made by Jane Grischke about how Leonard Street needs to be cleaned up. This achievement can be started with just a small effort by businesses. We need to clean up the streets by taking weeds out of sidewalks, picking up trash, trimming trees, and cleaning around our businesses. The presentation of West Leonard starts at 131, where the ‘Welcome to West Leonard’ sign is in disarray with knee high grass is growing all around it, the mural is peeling, and the buildings in the second block look just as bad, it the progression of unoccupied and not maintained buildings. As business owners, it is time that we apply a small amount of peer pressure, to get our windows washed inside and out, our bushes trimmed to at least 3 feet high, and our tree limbs should have a clearance of 6ft from ground to limb. Currently we have over 17,000 cars that past by Leonard Street on any given day, and it is time that we take advantage of this and get these cars to stop at our businesses. All block captains will need to have their surveys in by the second Friday of each month, so a letter can be written to the business owner and an effort of clean-up can be started.
You can see the power point presentation on our website http://leonardst.org
6. Joint Marketing – It is time we change the feel of West Leonard by changing our focus. We are currently working on different logo(s), name changes, and ideas of how to tie downtown into West Leonard. Discussion: It was brought up that we needed to keep Leonard Street as part of our name, because we are known as that. We needed to get a vision of where we want to go, the perception of what we are, and the identity of who we are. It is really important that we tie downtown into our name as it makes everyone aware that we are part of them and it takes less than five minutes to drive anywhere around us from the downtown area. There has been some talk about merging Stockbridge to Leonard Business District and all this should be another marketing tool in increasing our business district, and our bringing us into part of downtown.
7. Joint Marketing – The name change and logo should be done as soon as possible because the directory is almost if not ready to go. We don’t want to keep to many projects on hold while we decide.
8. NBA – Dick Szymanski – Johnny Brann, and Dave Shaffer will report on this next month
9. Public Safety – Captain Rebecca Whitman introduced us to Officer Alan Ort, our new Community Officer. Officer Ort is partnering with Officer Warwick from SWAN (South West Area Neighbors) on occasion. Captain Whitman shared her reasoning for choosing officer Ort, and that was because of his dedication, his ability to work in the neighborhood well, and she thought he would become a vital asset to the community.
10. West Grand Neighborhood Organization – Nola Steketee, Executive Director. When anyone is ready to receive the training for Mobile Watch, she would cater to your schedule. Jody Haan said that there should be a schedule and everyone should be calling and putting their name down so that the same people are not doing every weekend.
National Night Out is August 3, 2010 and it was taking place at Walgreen’s parking lot. Everybody is invited to attend.
Taste of Grand Rapids, July 23 & 24 – still looking for volunteers
Steeplefest August 21, 2010 – 12 noon – 9pm
11. New / Old Business – Horizen Hydroponics will be having their 2nd annual Grand Harvest Festival, Saturday August 28th, 11 – 5. It will take place 1614 Leonard NW Grand Rapids, 49504 – Parking Lot.
Meeting adjourned 3:05 pm
Next Meeting – WGNO, 415 Leonard NW - August 17th, 2010 8:30 am