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
Cathy Zyskowski – West Side Fitness
Andye Razmus – West Side Fitness
Stan Sacha – The Delta Plex
Lindsey Langlois – The Delta Plex
Alan Ort – Grand Rapids Police Department, Community Officer

Call to order 9:40 am
Review of Minutes – Jane Grischke made a motion to accept – Sue McKey seconded the motion – motion passed, 5 yeas – 0 nays.
Treasurer’s Report – Balance $4,263.00 Jane Grischke, made the motion to accept – Sue McKey seconded the motion – motion passed, 5 yeas – 0 nays.
Committee Updates –
Mobile Watch
is taking a turn in the wrong direction. We were all hoping that there would have been more involvement from the businesses and the residents. The probable reason – we have more property owners leasing versus the homeowner. Dave and Johnny will be taking their turn a week from Friday. We had really good mobile watch media in the beginning. The saddest part of this turn of events is that it shows the residents, the business owners, etc. that we are not doing what we say we are going to do. If we could just have one shift per member, it could be what will stop some of the graffiti in the neighborhood. Maybe we need to start a campaign where we identify homeowners, write a synopsis on how the program works, and then email them or write letters to them and try to encourage more involvement.

Events
Cathy Zyskowski – is still working on the 5k run through our city streets. The title will be “How the West Was Run” and it will have a wanted poster theme. Westside Fitness is working on booth information, the route, and a band. Also we are thinking about a weekend in October. We are looking for businesses to put up informational booths, to share their business, and what they have to offer. We are thinking that we should start at Westside Fitness and end at Westside Fitness. They are thinking about entrance fees and promotional ideas, maybe a tee-shirt or something.

Area Plan
Dave will be hosting another meeting about corridor improvements – an update will be at the next meeting.

Business Block Captains
Keep those complaints about violation coming into Jane (jgrischke@att.net) so that we can keep changing the face of our business district. Elizabeth Lewis (owner of 456 Leonard Street) approached Johnny regarding the sale of her building. It is on the market! Our goal is to make West Leonard Street a walkable, well managed retail district.

Joint Marketing
Logo changes – we are in agreement that we should have the words “downtown district” somewhere in our name. By using “West Leonard”, some of our businesses within our boundaries do not feel a part of us because they are not situated on Leonard Street itself. They actually feel left out. When you Google West Leonard – it shows West Grand and that name is cemented in peoples mind, thus we are becoming known as that. Sue McKey commented that after she renamed ‘The Shade Shop’ from ‘The Shade and Linoleum Shop’ people still call it the old name.

We should include Leonard Street in our name because that is who we are, and people will still call us that even after we change our name. Johnny commented that Brann’s recreates a new logo every 10 years. It was mentioned that we need to link West Leonard to West Grand and to downtown and that being the closest retail to downtown. The younger perspective – this is the cool and hip place to go – eat, shop, and live, all in the same place, like Wealthy Street, Eastown, etc. Stockbridge is thinking of changing their name to Steepletown.

Johnny Brann talked of changing the perception that we are part of downtown by just creating that perception, and sticking to it. Cathy Zuskowski mentioned she loved West Grand Downtown District because it was like new school/old school – as we are west of the river and things are happening on the Westside. Further discussion was that the two entities such as West Grand Neighborhood Organization and West Leonard could have a brother and sister relationship by having the same name, and still work independently together. We should put up banners or flags on the street right away with the name change so that our new name is available ASAP. Two options that were discussed were:
  • West Grand – The Leonard Street District
  • West Grand – The Downtown District

Both stating we were just minutes from downtown. West Leonard does have enough businesses to bring in new people constantly wanting to come to the Westside. Right now, no other business district has the name downtown as part of their name.

NBA – Dick Szymanski – The business awards will be forthcoming and NBA is currently looking for sponsorships. The cost of these sponsorships is $250.00. They are thinking about holding quarterly meetings. The WLBA dues were for part of the membership to NBA, but because of changes in the NBA structure, our participation changed. Because we had the largest membership in the past, there was a maximum amount that we paid into the organization and was supposed to be between $1,800 and $2,000. A motion was put on the floor to be a part of the sponsorship, by Dick Szymanski, seconded by Sue McKey and was voted on. 5 yeas, 0 nays

Public Safety – Officer Alan Ort. Graffiti is still a problem out there. When you see it on your building – call the police 456.3400 and make a police report. Also contact the graffiti hotline to remove it 456.3666, however remember they are several weeks behind, and it is important to remove the graffiti as soon as possible.
Meeting adjourned 10:15 am
Next Meeting – WGNO, 415 Leonard NW - September 21st, 2010 1:00 pm