With $300K surplus, Farmington DDA plans to buy property

The City of Farmington may be facing a sea of red ink, but the Farmington Downtown Development Authority’s budget remains solidly in the black.

Funded through taxes paid by property owners within the district, the DDA has a 2018-2019 budget of $619,000 with an anticipated revenues of $647,000. An increase in property valuation added $19,000 on the revenue side, and the DDA will receive a small income from two city-owned rental properties it manages.

That will push its fund balance to almost $333,000, but Director Kate Knight told city officials Monday, “We have plans for it.”

Knight said the major reason for hanging onto those funds is property acquisition.

“We are in active negotiation with a few property owners,” she said. “If all goes as planned will be able to discuss that in public soon.”

The DDA will, at the city’s request, kick in at least $80,000 for improvements on Oakland Street between Farmington Road and Grand River. In addition to making the street an east-bound, one-way, current plans call for additional public parking near Grand River. The city has also requested a contribution for the long-anticipated Farmington Road streetscape.

Knight said the DDA aims to “break even” with its events, but anticipates a small profit with the September Harvest Moon celebration. Those funds go toward downtown projects.

Riley Park
Downtown Farmington’s Riley Park is in the process of being rehabbed. 

Council member Bill Galvin asked about Riley Park and the green space that requires annual rehabbing after the Riley Park Ice Rink is taken down. Knight said a sponsor will cover a portion of this year’s costs.

“It has so much foot traffic, the grass never grows and it’s mud all summer long,” Galvin said. “I would encourage the DDA to look at other options.”

City manager David Murphy said other options have been considered, but council members and the park’s namesake, the late George Riley, have asked for grass.

Mayor Steven Schneemann, who also serves on the DDA’s Main Street Design Committee, said that group at one point talked “pretty seriously” about artificial turf. “It’s not inexpensive,” he said.

City Treasurer Chris Weber said that if the city had an annual program of heavily seeding and watering at the start of the season, “it might maintain its health better. If we try that program every year, hopefully the grass will take.”

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