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Ortonville DDA Main Street reaccreditation

February 26, 2014 - Ortonville- The village has been reaccredited as a Main Street community.

On Feb. 19, an evaluation team including Ray Scriber from the National Main Street Center and Bob Donohue and Alex Hritcu from Main Street Oakland County interviewed boardmembers of the Downtown Development Authority, as well as village business owners, residents, and volunteers. The team looked back through work plans and events from the past year and checked off items from a list of 10 criteria used to evaluate progress in Main Street communities.

"It has been seven years in a row that we have been able to be reaccredited," said DDA Executive Director Molly LaLone. "That means we are still paying attention to all four Main Street points and we are still following the principles of the Main Street program. It's an honor to be reaccredited, all of the volunteers have been working really hard in the right direction to keep our community economically healthy. The economy is not great and still recovering, but the village is doing OK despite economic challenges."

The village became a Main Street community in 2004. According to the MSOC home page at advantageoakland.com, MSOC is "a unique economic development program with a historic preservation philosophy and an emphasis on 'sense of place," which helps develop downtowns "as vibrant, successful districts that serve as the heart of their communities."

The Main Street program uses a four-point approach for which there are separate committees: organization— building consensus and cooperation; promotion— marketing the downtown's assets to local citizens, new businesses, customers and new private investors; design—improving the physical appearance of the downtown by rehabilitating historic buildings and encouraging new compatible con-struction and long-term design management; and economic restructuring— strengthening the downtown's existing economic base and finding ways to expand it with new opportunities.

The 10 criteria used to evaluate progress in Main Street communities are broad-based community support; vision and mission statements; historic preservation ethic; paid, professional DDA/Main Street Program Director; program of ongoing training; reporting of key statistics; Main Street Network membership; comprehensive work plan; active board and committees and adequate operating budget. Communities must meet all 10 criteria annually to receive accreditation.

"We get a lot of resources and support from the Main Street program," said LaLone. "There are services we receive that if we had to pay for would be really expensive. We also get education support, scholarships for conferences and they provide training locally. We have access to the historical architect through the MS program to design plans for any of the historic buildings in our village."

The village took advantage of these resources for updating the Old Town Hall last year, returning historic character to the building located at the corner of Mill and Church streets and adapting it for modern needs. MSOC has also designed plans for updates to various downtown buildings. Last year, LaLone adds, Main Street consultants helped the village through a strategic planning process. The plan is for development for the next five years in Ortonville, as well as how to raise funds for events and improvements.

Among those plans are a park and walkway in the downtown area, that would begin at the Old Mill and meander along Kearsley Creek toward the schools on Varsity Drive.

Meanwhile, the DDA is planning for 2014 events including Random Acts of Kindness Week, set for April 27-May 3; Creekfest, from June 19-22, and featuring a carnival, entertainment ten, parade and fireworks; and Beets, Beats & Eats, which runs every Friday night at Crossman Park during the summer, from June 20-Sept. 5. For more information on the DDA or the events and how you can volunteer, call 248-627-8070.

"Last year was an exciting year, we had a lot of new volunteers and added new things," said LaLone. "I can't wait to see what happens this year— it's going to be even better."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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