(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam Common Council Monday night directed the Downtown Redevelopment Committee to be responsible for approving a half-million dollars in downtown revitalization grants. The new nine-person committee is comprised of two elected officials, four appointees and three non-voting members.
Mayor Becky Glewen says the council would delay the process for business owners. Alderwoman Kara Nelson says that streamlining should not come at the expense of oversight. Council President Chris Olson pointed out that the council approves the mayor’s appointments. The resolution also authorizes the council to draft the guidelines.
The grant funds come from Tax Increment Finance District #6, a downtown blight elimination TIF with the money available for use only in the downtown. The grants were previously approved by the Community Development Committee.
Grants were initially distributed by the CDC and the Landmark Commission under stringent guidelines through what had been called the Downtown Façade Improvement Program. There were few grants awarded under the stringent guidelines.
In 2016, the council loosened restrictions for the grants that included eliminating the maximum cap for an award. Once-stringent requirements were simplified to a couple guidelines on a one-page application form. In 2020, the CDC approved 11 grants.
In March, members of the CDC discussed plans to review the guidelines in place – which they had indicated created confusion – and the CDC sought to rewrite the rules.
In April, an initial attempt to merge the CDC with the Landmark Commission was tabled by the city council. It was later learned that the CDC could not be dissolved as it an arm of the Beaver Dam Area Development Corporation by contract, acting as an intermediary between the public-private economic development entity and the city council. That contract is in place through 2023.
At their May 17 meeting, the council moved forward with rebranding the Landmark Commission as the Downtown Redevelopment Committee.
A resolution giving the new DRC the authority the approve the grant funding was rejected that meeting and sent back to committee. It returned Monday night in its original form after several failed amendments, and a lengthy discussion.