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Chelsea DDA votes to reduce number of members on board

The Chelsea Downtown Development Authority board unanimously approved a reduction in the number of members from the current board of nine members to seven members at its Zoom meeting on Dec. 17.

Originally, the DDA board had 12 members during the last 15 years, it was reduced to 11 members and then to nine members.  

It should be noted that the Chelsea City Council has seven elected members to represent the city of about 5,000 residents; the DDA district is much smaller area and number of eligible people. During the years, filling all the seats has been difficult. A member must live in or have a business in the DDA district to be eligible to serve on the board that holds its meeting at 7:30 a.m. on the third Thursday of the month.

The board voted to send the recommendation to the City Council for approval in January.

In addition, the board chose three of its four officers for 2021. Current Chairman Tim Merkel was unanimously re-elected as chairman, current secretary Bill O’Reilly was chosen as the new vice chairman and Kathy Finger was re-elected as treasurer.

With an open seat and one member absent from the meeting, the board decided to wait until next month to choose a secretary. 

Current Vice Chairman Jennifer Fairfield announced in November that she would be taking a break from the board after many years of service and would not be seeking re-appointment by the City Council when her term ends this month.

Community Development Director Julia Upfall told the board that the city had applied for and was approved for a grant of about $50,000 that will be used to purchase platforms for downtown parklets. She said they are ADA-compliant, reusable and storable, and expected the grant money to be awarded in January, 2021.

In other business, the board held a second discussion about the possibility of public art downtown.

Previously, developer Joe Ziolkowski sent a concept letter to the board outlining a request for consideration of an art program for the east facing wall of the building in Palmer Commons and suggested an organization that would manage and rotate the artwork.

Similar to the previous discussion, the DDA expressed concerns about the size, scope and costs involved. In addition, shade elements are planned for the building in Palmer Commons, but have not yet been installed.

The DDA board was in agreement that both Sculpture Walk, which the DDA helps to fund, and the Chelsea Area Chamber of Commerce and Chelsea Area Festivals and Event’s Hometown Holiday community art displays on the downtown lamp posts and the Christmas trees in Palmer Commons were something that they have enjoyed.

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