City of Three Rivers donates $50K to TRDDA

Tricia Meyer, executive director of the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority, addresses the Three Rivers City Commission during a meeting on Tuesday, July 6 at Three Rivers City Hall. (Alek Haak-Frost|Watershed Voice)

Organization helped bring in over $300K into downtown Three Rivers in 2020

The Three Rivers City Commission approved a $50,000 donation to the Three Rivers Downtown Development Authority Tuesday following a presentation from TRDDA Executive Director Tricia Meyer.

The TRDDA was instrumental in bringing approximately $326,000 in grants to downtown Three Rivers in 2020, benefiting local businesses amid a global pandemic and economic downturn, and facilitating the continued beautification of downtown Three Rivers. Despite their success with the aforementioned grants, the majority of the TRDDA’s budget is funded by donations, and with the TRDDA unable to host fundraising events for the better part of a year and a half, it still needs funds for operations and events, as well as programs it normally offers to downtown businesses like sign rebates, facade improvement, the R2 new business grant, holiday decorations, and other special projects.

Following Meyer’s presentation Tuesday, TRDDA Board Chair Andrew George addressed the commission. “It’s been expressed already, probably 10 times today, what we’ve accomplished during the pandemic and what we plan to accomplish with this donation. The big thing is continuing with the momentum we already have, beautifying downtown, the facade grant Mayor (Tom) Lowry just touched on, which gives businesses downtown an opportunity to improve their storefront, and I can’t describe how important that is. So we’re really looking forward to reinstating that grant program. I just want to say I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished, the relationships we’ve built with (the city commission), with (City Manager) Joe (Bippus), and I really appreciate your consideration. Thank you.”

Commissioner Alison Haigh expressed concerns over the donation not having more stringent guidelines as to what the TRDDA can spend the money on but Bippus said that was intentional to ensure the organization has flexibility in case an unexpected opportunity arises.

“You’ve got to remember, this board is still controlled by city spending policies, it’s still controlled by a board and a budget, how we all operate, so the ‘et cetera’ isn’t going to be something way out there that we aren’t already controlling,” Bippus said. “I didn’t give the board an opportunity to lay out a budget like that. I wasn’t trying to tie their hands with the donation but I have a lot of confidence in the board right now, and with Tricia, and Tricia and I did talk and she gave me a synopsis of what she’d like to spend the money on and I agree with those things. I guess I’m just asking (the commission) for a little trust.”

The $50,000 donation will come from the city’s general fund, which Bippus said “is very healthy right now.”

Alek Haak-Frost is executive editor of Watershed Voice.

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