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


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West Grand Downtown District Meeting

September 21, 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
Absent - 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
Dick Szymanski - Jedco
Absent - Sean Ellis - Southland Auto Wash
Absent - Jon O'Connor - West Michigan Appraisers, WGNO Board President, GRPS Board of Education member

Members Present
Nola Steketee – WGNO
Cathy Zyskowski – West Side Fitness
Andye Razmus – West Side Fitness
Stan Sacha – The Delta Plex

Call to order 1:15 pm
Review of Minutes – Dave Shaffer made a motion to accept –Mark Alcock seconded the motion – motion passed, 6 yeas – 0 nays.
Treasurer’s Report – Balance $4,226.64.00 Dave Shaffer, made the motion to accept – Mark Alcock seconded the motion – motion passed, 6 yeas – 0 nays.
Committee Updates –
Mobile Watch
– We are still talking about involving residents in this program. We need to increase awareness, maybe have a block party and making the mobile watch vehicle the focus. Jane and Jody do mobile watch on every Saturday night from 12:00 to 3:00 am.

Events
Cathy Zyskowski – The Way the West was Run. Saturday, October 23, 2010. The race will start at 9:00 am. The race will start and finish at Westside Fitness. The cost for this event is $25.00 and this includes a T-Shirt. Current Sponsors: (some may be post meeting) Westside Fitness, Brann’s Restaurant, Kent Beverage, Southland Auto Wash, The Shade Shop, Walgreens, Mieras Shoes, Kendall Lighting Center, Speedy Oil & Lube, Villa Maria Retirement, Mercantile Bank, Belden Brick & Supply, Devries Jewelers, Coca Cola Company, Lewandoski’s Market, Alpine Rent-All, Dave Shaffer, Spectrum Health, Walker St. Pharmacy, Sport Supplements, Horizon Hydroponics, Britten Designs, Radisson Grand Rapids Riverfront Hotel.

Area Plan
Dave Shaffer will have an update at the October 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 Jane will have the generic letter ready by the October meeting. Discussion: What if we offered a tool shed, where our business neighbors could come and take, use, or donate items needed to keep our buildings in good condition. Items such as paint brushes, rakes, hoe, etc. ROTC will be on Leonard Street, October 23rd, 2010 for a cleanup. This is great because it is right after the run, and when they are done, they are invited to Brann’s for a lunch.

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 –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.This was the vote August 17, 2010. Again it was brought up and voted once more to sponsor this event. More will be discussed at the next meeting.

Public Safety – Officer Alan Ort – was at training this month, he could not attend.

West Grand Neighborhood Organization – We are working on our farmers’ market festival. We are also working on funding a master gardener to work in our community gardens. Thy are the rain gardens, and the community garden on Fourth Street. WGNO is looking for a small grant to purchase 2 riding lawn mowers for our community service workers that maintain our gardens. They are continually working on finding CPTED grants with SRA funding. We are having our Annual Meeting on October 18th, 2010 at Sts. Peter and Paul.

New / Old Business – Membership is to be yearly, and we will start this January 2011, and every January from now on. We would like to see new lighting, signs, and really find great ways to change Leonard Street, in a positive way. One of the changes we would like to see is asking to have the mural repainted by an art prize artist next year. Jane and Roberta from WGNO is working on the grant for Safe Routes To School, and this will help us in changing the way we look, and it is funded by federal funding.
Meeting adjourned 2:45 pm
Next Meeting – WGNO, 415 Leonard NW - October 19th, 2010 8:30 am