Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

DIDA welcomes new members


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Ironwood — The Downtown Ironwood Development Authority welcomed two new members at its virtual meeting Thursday, bringing the city board to full strength at nine members.

The two new members are Bruce Greenhill and Darrin Kimbler. It was their first meeting since their mayoral appointments were approved by the Ironwood City Commission.

Greenhill is the operations manager for the Historic Ironwood Theatre.

Kimbler owns Taiga Farm and Vineyards in Ironwood Township. He is also the agriculture educator and Master Gardener program instructor for UW-Madison Division of Extension in Iron County.

Both new members expressed interest in learning about all of DIDA projects and how they work with other city departments and guiding documents. Both also expressed interest in participating with the First Friday Committee that meets monthly.

The DIDA members 9-0 approved the purchase of summer flower baskets that are placed on decorative lighting poles downtown and on main corridors, according to Tom Bergman, director of community development for the city of Ironwood. There will be an additional 18 new flower baskets on top of the 57 baskets last year to account for new decorative lighting poles in the Downtown City Square, the West Aurora Street and Silver Street business route to Hurley, and on Douglas Boulevard leading from downtown to U.S. 2.

The wreaths are $42 per basket, or $3,150 this year for the total 75 baskets, he said. The annual flowers and holiday wreaths are budgeted and the $5,900 line item includes the addition of the 18 new lighting poles, he said.

“It does appear that we have the budgeting to do all 75 flower baskets, if you wish to,” Bergman said.

The city public works department has a $1,200 contract with DIDA to perform daily maintenance and watering of the flower baskets and to place and remove the baskets and holiday wreaths.

Bergman said that he spoke with the city manager, Scott Erickson, who said the city could absorb the additional 18 baskets without increasing the contract.

The approval came with recommendations from Greenhill and other members to try and find ways to solicit donations from area businesses and community members to help offset costs after donations fell this year due to the economy and COVID-19.

“I would just like to add how impactful I believe that those flower baskets are, and how lovely they are, and that they’re up for most of the summer and into early fall,” said Mayor Annette Burchell, who is also a DIDA member. “I think they’re a statement to beautify our community and our downtown especially.”

DIDA approved its 2021 meeting schedule for the fourth Thursday of the month at 8 a.m. The exceptions are November and December meetings that are held the third Thursday because of holiday weeks.

The meeting calendar approved is Jan. 28, Feb. 25, Mar. 25, Apr. 22, May 27, June 24, July 22, Aug. 26, Sep. 23, Oct 28, Nov. 18, and Dec. 16.

The meeting topics included a goal setting process that will be slightly delayed until the pandemic subsides in 2021. Other topics included updates on the January First Friday event and the potential of developing a tax increment financing district for the downtown upon completing the zoning ordinance revisions in 2021.

In his update on the marijuana establishments ordinance, Bergman said that 15 applications were submitted for the various licenses by the Tuesday deadline. The initial application review will be to determine if the applicant will need another 15 days to submit additional information.

The planning commission will assume the largest role in reviewing the applicants and conducting a public hearing for each application. The merit based system will score applications on 15 criteria worth a possible 150 points.

The highest scores will be invited to apply for the city license once they have acquired the required state licenses. If approved the business will have an annual license renewal process.