TRAVERSE CITY — Former city parking administrator Gil Rupp addressed the Downtown Development Authority board on the possibility of using tax dollars to fund a memorial for former DDA Executive Director Bryan Crough.
“I think it is very appropriate we give some sort of recognition to a person who dedicated so much of his life to our downtown,” Rupp said. “I do not believe that Bryan would be happy if he felt the DDA board was going to contribute to that memorial.”
Rotary Charities of Traverse City offered up to $25,000 toward a piece of art to memorialize Crough if the DDA commits to matching the funds.
Crough was the DDA's executive director for more than 22 years. He died of a heart attack last year at age 60.
DDA board members today voted to set up an ad-hoc committee to research means of finding $25,000 to match Rotary Charities' money. Funding could come from tax dollars, public fundraising or a combination, DDA board members said.
They did not commit tax dollars to the project, but did not rule out the possibility. The committee will present its recommendation at the board's Aug. 15 meeting.
“I think Bryan did a significant amount for downtown, but he also made a lot of private citizens very wealthy because he stabilized the downtown,” DDA board member John DiGiacomo said. “I’d like to see some public movement to pay for this memorial.”
Some board members spoke against putting any public funding toward the project.
“This will come under a great deal of public scrutiny,” said Mayor Michael Estes, a member of the DDA board. “I applaud Rotary for their grant and their request to us, but even presidential libraries are not funded by tax dollars; they’re funded by private dollars.”
DDA board member Charles Judson said he considers this project a means of spurring public art downtown, another DDA initiative. The board is developing an ordinance to allow putting 1 percent of capital project costs toward public art projects.
“I think the public art initiative for the downtown, the expenditure related to the Rotary request and Bryan Crough are hand-in-hand," he said. "That is, as a matter of fact, to be an example in a kickoff of how (a) public art initiative would occur.”