DDA swings, misses on light show rejection

Grand Haven’s Downtown Development Authority and the City Council had a chance to bring hundreds of potential consumers into downtown Grand Haven each day in December.
Sep 30, 2013

Instead, at the recommendation of the DDA, the City Council voted not to allow the Holiday Road Light Show to be held on Franklin Avenue.

The reason? They’re afraid the popular holiday lights show — which raises money for charity — would bring too much traffic to the area.

Wait, we’re trying to promote our downtown businesses, and too much traffic is a bad thing? Seriously?

Just up the road a few miles is a collection of retail stores, a mall and dozens of restaurants — most of which bend over backward to get shoppers in the door by offering discounts and other incentives. You’d think our downtown businesses would do the same in an attempt to get people in their doors during the busy holiday season.

It seems to us that, instead of blocking the Holiday Road Light Show, the downtown should embrace the opportunity to bring thousands of prospective customers into the district each week.

True, an increase in traffic could prove difficult for some service-oriented businesses downtown, but typically those businesses run more of a 9-to-5 schedule.

The Holiday Road Light Show wouldn’t really interfere — the traffic typically doesn’t ramp up until later in the evening.

The DDA felt the light show would hurt our downtown businesses. We disagree.

In our opinion, this was a golden opportunity to cash in on a ton of holiday traffic. Sadly, we won’t have the chance to see how it would have played out.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


Jim Swarts

One DDA's loss is another's gain. The lights soon will have a new home in Louisiana where the DDA hopes to attract people to their downtown. Grand Haven downtown can remain barren and cold while the lights bring joy and warmth elsewhere.


Ouch. This decision by the DDA, a collection of supposed business people, is the best example of stupidity by committe I've seen in many a moon. Hard to support businesses that don't need my business. I guess downtown will be a great place for window shopping and that's about it.


Here we go beating a dead Horse. It is over. The DDA and the Council screwed us and screwed up. No hard feelings right? Well except for a whole lot of residents, neighbors, and oh yeah, the Special Olympics. I am glad that the Holiday (Christmas) Road Show will continue and more families will get to enjoy what our elected officials screwed up.


i can not think of anyone that shops downtown anymore, i don't, i get better deals up on Sherman and Harvey street, MUSKEGON MI., soon, downtown Grand Haven will be like Broadway, Muskegon Hts someday, only the tourists support the buisness downtown


THis would have been cool set up where the musical fountian usually is. The families could watch from the bleachers. Did any one ever think of this?


yeah, about a year ago, at least.


Grand Haven has made a huge mistake. Public opinion ought to count for something. It mattered this past summer when the Coast Guard sign was nearly disallowed on Dewey Hill. And it should matter now because it's clear everyone wants the light show on Franklin.


Not everyone bud. The DDA didn't want it and they have enough power to control our elected city officials, so there ya go. Percentages don't always work in your favor.


I heard that the show has been sold (not 100% sure it's true) to another downtown area. I HOPE that someone pays very close attention to how it affects the new location and reports back. Wether good or bad it would certainly be interesting!


Yes it is true. In a few days the lights will be going to a new home. Ironically a town in Louisiana is buying everything to help promote their downtown business district. They have been doing a show for a few years now with great success and are going to be expanding it.


Sorry to hear that...was hoping they'd come to their senses before it was a lost cause.
I'm not sure what I'd do with the info, but I'd sure like to see a list of who's in this DDA and where exactly they're working. Then I at least know who doesn't want my business.


The vote is public record. Contact city hall or the DDA for the minutes.


I heard that the show has been sold (not 100% sure it's true) to another downtown area. I HOPE that someone pays very close attention to how it affects the new location and reports back. Wether good or bad it would certainly be interesting!


Below are the Board Members for the DDA. The website is www.downtowngh.com

Dan Borchers - 616.846.2170
Immediate Past Chairman, Frame & Mat Shop

Dale Kwekel – 616.842.8680
Chairman, Grand Haven Garden House

George Gardner – 616.846.3350
Vice Chairman, DeBoer, Bauman & Co.

Sharon Behm – 616.846.4420
Treasurer, Borr’s Shoes & Accessories

Rheba Bolt – 616.846.6280
Secretary, The Paper Place

Geri McCaleb - 616.844.0425
Mayor, City of Grand Haven

John Steinbach – 231.759.7727
Anchor Real Estate

Randy Smith – 616.846.1451
Michigan Rag Co.

Valerie Grant – 616.847.0550
Studio 206

David Ten Cate – 616.847-1031
Capstone Real Estate

John Naser - 616-842-1628
BLP Board & Resident


Thanks for this, not that I'm all that lazy, but you just saved me and probably others some time with your efforts.

After looking at the list and seeing some names I know I guess I'll be finding somewhere else to get my garden supplies and my framing and matting done. The rest of these places, with the exception of Michigan Rag have never seen my face so I'm sure they don't care one way or another and Naser, who's been a grinch as long as I've known him....there's a surprise he'd be against it...not.

I sure would like to know how this small group of small thinkers can get the city council, who supposedly does what's best for ALL it's citizens, to kowtow to the wishes of a half dozen folks who aren't even open during the hours the light show would be going on. What's the real motivation for squashing the light show?


This group of idiots has seen my last dollar.


Direct Quote from their site, "We at the Grand Haven Main Street Downtown Development Authority (MSDDA) are busy working year round to fulfill our mission of enhancing a vibrant, historic business district through community efforts and public and private partnerships."

Ha Ha Ha. Community Efforts? Public and Private Partnerships? Really.


I hope they don't plan on putting lights in the trees this year downtown. It may draw too many people to see them.

Sarcastic? Yes, but all you have to do is look around the country to see how successful it has been for other downtowns. Why do you think Macy's in NYC puts on a show every year on the side of their building? Maybe one day downtown Grand Haven will be forward thinking. Until then they will continue to struggle.


To bad the light show wasn't tried for a season to see the benefits or not. In the summer Grand Haven has so much to offer on a weekly basis but when winter comes needs some help. This would have been perfect.


What downtown does not get is the biggest risk, is often the biggest payoff. But when something has been proven for several years with controllable and predictable outcomes it's not really a risk. It's a no brainer.

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