Outdoor Speakers For City Of Douglas Questioned
Some merchants have raised questions about the Douglas city and the Douglas Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) proposal for an outdoor speaker system that would be installed on downtown light poles.
“I have a lot of questions: What will it be used for? How much will it cost? When will it be used? But the main concern is that it is putting the cart before the horse: we have nobody in town to play the speakers to,” local merchant Kim Neuens told the Douglas City Council during Monday night’s meeting.
Neuens, who owns a home stylist and gift store downtown, said she was concerned about the lack of ideas to boost foot traffic, suggesting, for example, the city could fund an ad to highlight Douglas in a Pure Michigan campaign.
“It’s a substantial amount of money. There are a number of different things we can look for instead of buying speakers,” she said.
Last year, the city’s bid produced a wide range: $15,000 at the low end, and $39,000 at the high end, according to Douglas Community & Economic Development Director Lisa Imus. The city and the DDA together have budgeted a total of $25,000 for the Center Street speakers.
Douglas Mayor Jim Wiley responded to Neuens’ concerns, noting, “It was the merchants that wanted the speakers, but I don’t want to get into a big discussion about it right now.”
The city and the DDA studied the matter before proceeding, conducting a survey of downtown merchants’ positions and feelings about the proposal.
Half the merchants were not in favor of the project, but the other half expressed strong support for it as well as garnering support from many other businesses and individuals, Imus told The Local Observer.
She said the speaker system would be used to make various announcements— including business ads, sales and special events—as well as simply serve as a source for light background music.
“The conduit (for the electrical wiring) was put in place for this purpose when Center Street was rebuilt (12 years ago), so it’s not a new concept,” said Imus.
The council approved spending $1,200 two weeks ago to have Farrell Audio investigate the location and condition of the conduit system and create a plan.
Farrell went a little further and actually installed the wiring, according to city officials.