Traverse City Record-Eagle

Our Views

July 1, 2014

Non-downtown business corridors need attention

Business owner Sharon Carmean’s crack that she should thank a driver who took out two light poles near her business because the area finally got some attention from the city would be funny if it wasn’t so true — and so not funny.

Carmean and other business owners at Garfield and Eighth, commonly known as Eastfield, complain they’re largely ignored by the city - to the point where they have to plow part of the city street and pull weeds on city medians.

The topper was when the city erected a directional way-finding sign on Garfield just south of Eighth pointing motorists to the downtown and away from Eastfield, which is literally within a few yards of the sign.

Ben Franklin store owner Cynthia Taylor called the sign “A slap in the face.”

“Everything’s about the downtown,” she said. “It’s always about the downtown.”

She’s right. A few years ago the city took steps to give more attention to business areas outside downtown, but they went essentially nowhere.

Not long after he came to town, former city manager Ben Bifoss directed Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Bryan Crough to spend some time and effort working with commercial areas along 14th Street, Garfield and Eighth Street. The aim was to help the areas with marketing, pro-business zoning changes and other steps that would make doing business there easier.

That effort pretty much came to naught, and places like Eastfield were again left to their own devices — and pulling their own weeds.

It has to be said that downtown businesses pay for extra attention from the city. Businesses within the DDA area pay an extra tax to support the DDA and its promotional efforts. The way-finding effort that was behind the sign pointing away from Eastfield was paid for by the DDA.

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