By Megan Kelley
The Downtown Development Authority board met on June 9 for their regular meeting where they discussed several new initiatives that patrons and downtown guests can expect to enjoy this summer.
DDA Executive Director Molly LaLone presented the board with several weekly events that the DDA is hoping to put on throughout the summer called Lake Orion Live!
Starting on July 8, the DDA is expected to bring back their Wednesday summer concert series in Children’s Park featuring local artists.
The concerts will roll over to the first Fridays of July, August and September and will feature premiere artists, arranged by 20 Front Street. The “First Friday Concert” series will also take place in Children’s Park.
“This is in partnership with 20 Front Street and they will bring in a premiere artist, some of their bigger names. All of the musicians that we’re able to contract with through 20 Front Street are very, very good,” LaLone said. “Our weekly concerts in Children’s Park, those are traditionally…a local artist who is very talented. And the difference between the weekly concerts on Wednesdays at Children’s Park and the First Friday Concert also in Children’s Park will be that these artists are ones that have been featured on The Voice…they’re a little bit more well-known.”
And on July 9, the DDA plans to bring theme nights to the downtown. Each Thursday night through Sept. 3, music representing the night’s theme will flow through the streets either via a DJ or a sound system that the DDA is currently looking into purchasing.
“Originally, because of the construction project, we were working with the businesses to stay open later and we were going to be really marketing very heavily what the specials were that they were doing every Thursday night,” said LaLone. “So the reason we added the Thursday was if they decide to stay open late, as they had planned, we can add a weekly DJ and present theme night, like disco night or 80s or Motown.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DDA hopes that these events will attract people to the downtown and encourage them to patron some of the downtown businesses while following the proper precautions put forth by the state.
“Personally, I’m not concerned about the number of people coming into town. We’re allowed to have 500 now, come July. I expect that we won’t have an issue, but keep in mind we have the parks, we have the streets, we have all those businesses; if we need to keep everybody separated so that we are not over the number that we need to be over, then we’ll just do that,” LaLone said.
The board voted in favor of The Lake Orion Live! event schedule for an amount not to exceed $13,050.
Sound System bid challenged
Later in the meeting, LaLone brought forward bids for several placemaking initiatives that include an outdoor speaker/sound system, picnic tables and barricades.
The board had previously been supportive of all three projects; however, concerns were raised relatively quickly regarding the process in which these products are being purchased.
According to DDA documents, outdoor speakers from the company Street Sounds would cost the DDA $30,000. Barricade fencing would cost the DDA $5,000 and picnic tables (20 at $160 each), $3,200.
Currently, the DDA’s purchasing policy states that if the DDA is to spend more than $1,000, they must have a minimum of three bids from different vendors, according to Village Manager Joe Young.
In this situation, Street Sounds was the only quote solicited and presented to the board for wireless outdoor speakers — something Township Supervisor Chris Barnett took great issue with.
“I don’t know what the DDA’s purchasing policy is, I don’t know what the village’s is, but I know that, for example the township, if we spend more than $5,000 you have to have three bids. If there’s no other product like this then…I just don’t know if we have enough information. I 100 percent support this. $30,000 is a lot of money and I think, for the integrity of this board, I’m concerned about supporting it with no background information…I’m a little nervous about how we’re moving fast with some of these things. I think we should move fast, but I don’t know how we approve $30,000 without (additional bids),” Barnett said.
According to LaLone, Street Sounds is the only vendor for wireless outdoor speaker systems in a downtown.
The board agreed to table the purchase and discuss it again during a special meeting that is expected to be held once they have received three bids on each item.