$126,000 Public Relations Plan for Fenton Streetscape to be Trimmed
Council asks Downtown Development Authority to cut some of the expenses.
An estimated $126,000 public relations campaign for Fenton’s $4.5 million Streetscape project is headed back to the drawing board for some cuts, after criticisms on the cost by residents and city council members.
The Fenton Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is funding the Streetscape project, which is planned for the 2013 construction season. The DDA’s plans need city council’s approval and it looks as if changes will have to be made for that to happen.
New Moon Visions, of Milford, the city’s marketing and public relations consultant, will be paid to assist with communication, meetings and events surrounding the Streetscape project. It includes communicating to people living in and outside of Fenton, how to reach downtown businesses during the construction, said Department of Public Works Supervisor Daniel Czarnecki.
In addition, New Moon’s plan includes helping businesses get and keep customers — and obtain signs, if needed, to direct traffic to their stores. These signs will be different from the “Road closed” and “Detour” signs the city is already required to use, he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Cheryl King said people are commenting that $126,000 for public relations for the Streetscape project is extremely high. It works out to around $100 per hour for New Moon Visions, and King supports a reduction in public relations costs.
The proposal includes paying New Moon Visions to hold quarterly merchant meetings and public forums on behalf of the city, Mayor Sue Osborn said. New Moon Visions will perform door-to-door merchant surveys, so businesses’ special needs can be considered during construction. It will be crucial to provide access to water utilities, parking and signs for the businesses, and public access for customers, she said.
“I don’t want to see anyone go out of business because of this, and it’s going to be a very comprehensive development,” Osborn said.
Councilman Michael Piacentini said he wants to see some overlap between New Moon Visions’ contract with the city for public relations and marketing, and the contract for the firm’s duties regarding the Streetscape. He would like to see that some of the Streetscape costs for New Moon’s services are already covered by the current contract.
Schmidt said New Moon Visions’ services are important, because if the city has one event go bad, with people not coming back, it’s lost money for the community. This is not to mention the losses if a business closes because of the project. New Moon Visions’ proposal is to get Fenton through the construction and keep businesses open.
“You need the marketing in place to keep this rolling,” Schmidt said. “We are on a real aggressive path here.”
Also at its work session on Monday, council members decided to consider approval of engineering and landscaping costs for the Streetscape, at the council meeting on Monday, Feb. 13.
The proposal from OHM, for design engineering, is $291,910, Czarnecki said. More costs from OHM are to come for the construction engineering. In addition, the landscaping proposal is $54,600, from Landscape Architecture Services (LAS).
OHM and LAS will work together during the Streetscape project, Czarnecki said. OHM will handle upgrades to stormwater and sanitary sewer utilities and oversee the road improvements. LAS will be responsible for aesthetic upgrades and landscaping.
The Streetscape project is planned so that it will be completed in one construction season, in 2013, instead of in two years as OHM originally proposed, he said. Events like the Fenton Freedom Festival parade and Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Taste in Fenton will need to be planned around the construction.
Councilwoman Pat Lockwood said the Fenton Freedom Festival committee is working on the Fourth of July event, so concerns for that can be removed from the equation. The committee is discussing plans for 2013’s festival, and moving the entire festival.
“Our group is doing the planning, and we are moving ahead,” Lockwood said.
The Back to the Bricks Tune-Up car show is a factor, along with the Concerts in the Park and Farmers Market, City Manager Lynn Markland said. And there are other events, such as 3rd Thursday and the Art Walk.
In addition, Lockwood questioned a $10,000 expense in New Moon Visions’ proposal, for a Streetscape ribbon cutting.
Kim Rivera, head of New Moon Visions, said it isn’t only a ribbon cutting, it’s an event.
Lockwood said Fenton should just do the good work it’s going to do on the Streetscape and then let people go back.
Rivera said her firm already cut costs in the plan before it came to city council. She asked council what areas it wanted to trim.
Schmidt said he will take New Moon Visions’ Streetscape proposal back to the DDA, to see where it can cut costs. The DDA knows everything about the project and can sit down with New Moon Visions to decide where to make cuts.