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DL downtown plan recommended by planning commission -- except the convention center

The Detroit Lakes Development Authority made recommendations to the city council to accept the RDG Planning and Design studies done around the city and the feasibility study for a conference center, but that doesn't mean it recommends going forward on all the projects.

"By and large, it's a good plan," Community Development Director Larry Remmen said. "It's not showing this all has to take place overnight. It's a good framework" for a plan.

He added that cost estimates will be more specific once the project is actually heading forward.

"In general, I like it a lot," DLDA member Tom Klyve said.

Once the Minnesota Department of Transportation turns back the land to the city of Detroit Lakes, the land will likely be turned over to the DLDA for development purposes.

Right now, the crescent area is priority No. 1. But that's not to say other development won't happen as needed.

"I think development opportunities will present themselves," City Administrator Bob Louiseau said.

DLDA member Mark Hagen said "what we have and what we'd like to see" are two different processes in order to prioritize the development of the area.

"I see it as it's going to take 8-10 things going forward to make this work," Louiseau said.

The group talked about getting other committees involved, such as the park board and the strategies committee, for example.

"It's not realistic to think the people around this table are going to make it all happen," DLDA member Mary Beth Gilsdorf said.

The conference center study was another story. The group recommended accepting the study, but recommended that the city council not move forward with plans for a public, city-owned and financed conference center.

The 10,000-square foot event space was estimated to cost $4 million to build, with an estimated operations budget of $500,000.

With an estimated $300,000 in revenues, the city would be supplying $200,000 a year in subsidies.

"To be owned by taxpayers, I am not in favor of," Klyve said.

Alderman Bruce Imholte pointed out that, although the city may have to subsidize the project for a while, the convention center would bring extra customers to the area, supporting local businesses.

"It doesn't mean we're endorsing the plan, just accepting the plan," DLDA chairman Jim Anderson said.

"It's time to make it a document, but I don't support it," Klyve agreed.

The DLDA also agreed to loan up to $7,500 to the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce for a sign that will be placed near the fire hall on Main Street.

The chamber will receive money from the Minnesota Department of Transportation if the sign is approved by the end of this month.

"It's not so much a Chamber of Commerce sign, but a 'welcome to Detroit Lakes' sign," Chamber president Kris Toveson said. "The approach was it was going to be a community sign, so we felt to do it up right."

The city council will decide whether to use liquor store funds to donate to the Chamber, therefore paying the DLDA's loan back.

If the chamber board accepts it, the loan will be for six months at no interest.

"It seems more appropriate to come out of that (liquor store fund) than development fund," Alderman Matt Brenk said.