CADILLAC — More than $3 million has been spent over the course of three years to transform an area of downtown into the Cadillac Commons.
The Cadillac Commons is comprised of several features, including the renovated Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion; plaza area with splash pad, fireplace and skating rink; and market.
To date, the city of Cadillac has spent $3,320,305 since 2015, starting first with the $147,699 construction of a new bathroom near the pavilion; then the $425,258 renovation of the pavilion in 2016-2017; then the $1,534,574 Plaza construction in 2017-2018; and finally the $891,552 (to date) construction of the market and $321,222 reconstruction of Cass Street.
Crews have not finished constructing the $1.2 million market, but architect Connie Houk, with Prein and Newhof, anticipates the project will be complete by fall.
Cadillac Finance Director Owen Roberts said $1,069,555 (28 percent) of the costs of the Cadillac Commons projects were funded using outside dollars, including grants and donations.
Broken down, here are the amounts funded by donations: Rotary bathroom — 100 percent funded by grants and donations; Rotary pavilion — 68 percent ($288,500) funded by grants and donations; plaza — 9 percent ($135,327) funded by grants and donations; and market — 37 percent ($497,000) funded by grants and donations.
Roberts said that the remaining funding came from a variety of sources, including a $1 million bond; $321,000 in Major Street and Motor Vehicle Highway funds on hand; $400,000 in captured Downtown Development Authority money; $300,000 in funds on hand since 2000 from the Urban Development Action Grant; $73,000 in funds on hand from the purchase, redevelopment, and sale of a downtown building; and $465,000 in funds on hand since 1998 from the sale of interest in electric cogeneration plant.
"The only funds that were from the General Fund were from reimbursements from the Local Community Stabilization Authority for personal property tax losses," Roberts said in an email to the Cadillac News. "This reimbursement was significantly higher than budgeted and so a portion of the extra funds were designated to assist in completing the Market project."
Recently, the Cadillac City Council approved a project agreement with the Department of Natural Resources, which has agreed to pay for 70 percent of the final piece of the Cadillac Commons — the extension of the White Pine Trail into the city park area.
The Trailhead project includes the extension of the White Pine Trail from South and Lake streets to the corner of Cass and Lake streets, in addition to providing the community with a new trailhead that will include various amenities such as parking for both bicycles and automobiles, wayfinding, picnic areas and a bike repair station.
Cadillac Community Development Director John Wallace said the trail will be extended along Lake Cadillac until it reaches the intersection of Chapin and Lake streets, at which point it will cross Lake Street, with the trailhead built south of the AMVETS building, where farmers markets have been set up for a number of years.
The project is estimated to cost $378,900, with the city contributing $113,700 in order to receive the 70 percent grant from the DNR.
Wallace anticipated they will begin construction of the project sometime in the spring.
During a discussion in September, council member Steven King asked how the city planned to obtain $113,700 to pay their portion of the extension project.
King has previously stated that he doesn't support the crowdfunding methods used previously to raise money for the Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion and Market, which he views as essentially a tax on the business community.
Cadillac City Manager Marcus Peccia said they have the funds on hand to "write a check" at any time for a matching amount.
About $33,000 is expected to come from a donation from the Rotary Club of Cadillac, with the difference covered by a possible community block grant; out of the "development fund" used to help pay for the market; and through fundraising.
Peccia pointed out that if not for the 70 percent grant from the DNR, the city likely wouldn't even be discussing this project.
What area residents think of the Cadillac Commons:
• Jodi Potokar Snyder: Cadillac is our second home. We really love the revitalization of the lake-front downtown Cadillac! Your investment into the Commons provides such a great location for lots of community events.
• Debbie Bender Bielik: I feel excessive money was spent on some of these projects.
• Kim Vranish: Love investment in our community and especially in our children.
• Eric May: Always focusing on tourism and not on the problems within the community. It's a money grab. Should focus on troubled youth, our drug problem, and the schools.
• Jacki Wood Hajdu: I love the investment in our community. The Commons area looks great.
• Kristi Christie Gonzalez: I think it is important to invest in our communities. I will say that as a large family parent, I personally find the splash pad and fireplace to be not the best use of the money spent.
• Evelyn Brodberg: I love every thing about it, (especially) the Market and the splash pad for the kids.