I am invested in Bay City.
But that investment goes far beyond the money and jobs accompanying my development of The Times Lofts and The Legacy in downtown Bay City.
I am also invested as a staunch advocate for Bay City, a diehard volunteer who wants to build upon a solid base of arts and culture to encourage further development in the coming years.
But that growth requires an investment from you, too. It requires each of you to act in ways that encourage development and new ideas. That you act in positive ways that dispel the all-too-real perception that doing business in Bay City is a never-ending, uphill battle that’s just not worth the headache.
Today our investment is in Wenonah Park.
Let me be clear: I emphatically support the construction of the Wenonah Park Pavilion. As a member of the Board of Directors for the Bay City Downtown Management Board, I was thrilled several years ago when the concept first emerged as a way to encourage downtown activity during the long winter months.
To hear later that the project stood a chance -- that funds were available -- I jumped for joy. I believed then and I believe now that the pavilion offers a set structure for events, easily available with the necessary facilities the park currently lacks: restrooms, baby changing stations, ADA accessibility, and shade.
In Bay City, we don’t have a university or a hospital downtown to stabilize us. But we do have arts and culture. This stabilizes our market and adds a vibrancy lacking in other nearby cities. The entertainment we’ve enjoyed for decades in Wenonah Park is exactly what small towns everywhere wish they had. That’s made possible thanks to the tireless efforts of the Bay Arts Council and now the State Theatre to offer a broad range of summer programs, many of them free of charge.
I believe the Pavilion is an investment in families who attend free events each summer in Wenonah Park … families who want to leave their problems at home and enjoy a festive night in the park making memories in their hometown.
I believe the Pavilion is an investment in attracting more feet on the street -- and how those feet support our small businesses each and every day.
I believe the Pavilion is an investment in fiscal responsibility. If approved by the Bay City Commission, the State Theatre, DDA and Bay City would come together in a partnership to leverage private funds and create more change. These partners have spent the last year listening to public feedback, tweaking the design, incorporating priorities, and working through a collaborative process.
In conclusion, I ask each of you to continue investing in economic development efforts such as the Wenonah Park Pavilion.
Because people are watching.
Every tenant for The Legacy asks whether the pavilion and park upgrades will happen. They want it. They want it to help revitalize Center Avenue. The Times Lofts tenants are all looking forward to living in the heart of downtown this summer.
Developers, investors, and foundations are watching, too. And they’ll remember which cities support and encourage growth and vibrancy, and which ones turn their backs on investment.