OSCODA – Formation of the Oscoda Township Economic Improvement Committee was made official, effective June 25, following action by the board of trustees at their meeting the prior evening.
Several tasks were completed as part of the process, including adoption of a resolution to stand up the committee, all of which passed in 6-0 votes. Trustee Timothy Cummings was not in attendance.
“So as discussed previously, the next phase of the township economic development will consist of establishing a township-wide Economic Improvement Committee,” Supervisor Aaron Weed said at the June 24 board meeting.
He read through the resolution, which notes that the township has identified the need for major economic growth and sustainability, and the need to establish a committee to facilitate this endeavor.
The committee is to serve under the township board of trustees and work alongside those from the planning commission, as well as state and national economic improvement agencies, to ensure coordinated efforts and plans.
The document also outlines the group’s mission and vision goals, which are summarized as follows:
The mission of the Economic Improvement Committee is to be a catalyst for economic development and foster a strong economic environment which supports businesses and nurtures growth and new investment in the Charter Township of Oscoda. The Economic Improvement Committee is dedicated to promoting and facilitating economic development and to improve quality of life by increasing its economic base and encourage new business growth and promote retention of current businesses for the township as a whole.
The vision is to lead the state of Michigan and Northeastern Michigan with an innovative and sustainable economy while attracting new businesses and expertise to enjoy our unique lifestyle. This committee will set the standard in economic growth as a leader promoting investment and development and is responsible for providing leadership for the township’s economic growth strategy. It will create and implement an Economic Development Strategy, design and employ a Downtown Redevelopment Plan, develop and apply a Community Marketing Strategy and Branding System, qualify and retain Redevelopment Ready Communities Certification, oversee all Brownfield Redevelopment Authority activities, and encourage investment in the township’s Opportunity Zone (or any of the listed subsequent replacement programs), and work to succeed in its mission by the year 2030.
It is further noted in the resolution that the committee shall be comprised of five township residents who will meet at a minimum of once per month. They will serve four-year, staggered terms to ensure continuity.
To maintain adequate cross representation, at a minimum, one committee member shall be from the township board of trustees, one a planning commissioner, and one a resident of Oscoda who does not serve on any other township boards. The other positions may be filled by township residents, regardless of any involvement with other government boards.
Committee members are to be appointed by the township supervisor and approved by trustees.
Weed shared that members of the previous Downtown Development Authority (DDA) have said they wish to continue their service through the new committee.
Therefore, he recommended the following appointments – listed along with their term expirations – all of which were approved in a 6-0 vote of trustees:
Rhonda Cope, Dec. 31, 2020; Martin Gayeski, Dec. 31, 2021; David Iler, Dec. 31, 2022; Rose Mary Nentwig, Dec. 31, 2023; and Mark Wygant, Dec. 31, 2023.
“The DDA had very specific boundaries. I’m guessing that this new concept that you’re outlining is for the entire township,” said Trustee Jim Baier, which Weed confirmed.
Baier also asked if the new committee will have a director, and Weed told him this will be at the option of the township board.
“Do you think it’s going to happen?” Baier questioned.
“I think it would be good for them to have one,” Weed replied.
Treasurer Jaimie McGuire asked how the director position will be funded, to which Weed said if the board determines there is one, then that would be part of the discussion.
McGuire also had inquiries about any projects the committee may take on, pointing out that since the DDA has dissolved, there will no longer be the tax capture which was brought in through that entity.
Weed answered that, just like with any other department, a budget request would be made for the amount of money needed, and it will be reviewed by township trustees who will then make a determination.
“Will they have their own budget line item, with a budget established on a yearly basis?” McGuire asked.
“That hasn’t been determined,” said Weed, adding that this will also be brought before the township board when the time comes.
Clerk John Nordeen noted that Weed previously served on the DDA, so he asked if the intention was for Weed to also be a part of the new committee.
“No. Not unless the board chooses to select the supervisor,” Weed explained, adding that Trustee Gayeski has agreed to be on the committee at this time.
According to Weed, the first meeting of the group has been scheduled for Tuesday, July 9.
“This meeting will start the process of structuring the committee and creating by-laws,” he stated.
Future meetings will then be held to discuss the direction of the township’s economic development strategy, opportunity zone criteria, Brownfield activities and so on.
In related matters, Superintendent Dave Schaeffer informed trustees that with the dissolution of the DDA – which was previously approved by both trustees and authority members – it is necessary for the DDA to deed over any property in its name to the township.
Therefore, officials approved a quit claim deed for the pocket park located on US-23, next to the Oscoda Press office, as well as the Huron Shores Artisan Hall (HSAH).
As noted by Schaeffer, these actions were discussed and approved at the final DDA meeting on June 12.
The motion on the deed, made by McGuire, also called for expediting the turnover of the DDA bank account back to the treasurer’s office for proper accounting.
As for the deeded properties, Baier asked if anyone had plans they wanted to share regarding the future of these parcels, such as whether they will be sold.
Weed said the potential sale of HSAH was discussed last fall, with DDA members in favor of putting the building on the market.
In similar matters, he said rentals of the hall for events will likely be taken care of now by the township executive secretary.
“The intent of a DDA was never to run a business operation. It was to rehabilitate properties and then sell them,” Weed continued, adding that he would be in favor of listing HSAH for sale.