MID Takes Aim at Downtown Blythewood

While the plan is still in its infancy, Blythewood Town Administrator John Perry offered the Planning Commission an overview on just what a Municipal Improvement District (MID) could do during their June 6 meeting.

“This is just half-baked bread, which you know never tastes good,” Perry said after the meeting. “At any time, the Planning Commission could tell me to stop and that would be it.”

Perry said it was still not known exactly how much money a MID could generate to fund improvements, nor was it clear on how the properties inside the MID would be assessed.

“Per parcel seems way too arbitrary,” Perry said.

But according to the work in progress Perry presented to the Planning Commission, the Town has roughed out a budget of $1.5 million to be spent inside the District over the next three years. The largest portion of that sum — $300,000 – is dedicated to the acquisition of rights of way. The MID budget calls for $100,000 each for the acquisition of rights of way from Creech Road to Main Street and for a new road behind the Community Center. For an additional Community Center road, as well as for a right of way on Boney Road from the southern I-77 exit to the IGA, the MID has allocated $50,000 each.

The Creech Road to Main Street acquisition would make way for a proposed new road, “IGA Boulevard,” that would run roughly parallel to Blythewood Road between the IGA and the First Citizens Bank, and which is part of the Town’s Master Plan, Perry said.

Along McNulty Road and running to Main Street, the MID plan calls for $152,000 for lighting, street trees and sidewalks, as well as a small contingency fund of $25,000 included in the $152,000. Sign posts, traffic controls and directional signs would cost an estimated $75,000. Traffic signals on Boney and McNulty roads would cost an estimated $100,000. The MID also includes $40,000 to make the District a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Perry also told the Commission that the Town’s Christmas decorations have just about outlived their usefulness, and the MID wish list includes $15,000 to replace them. Another $15,000 is included for announcement and event banners and their corresponding hardware.

A part-time staff person at the Town’s Welcome Center would consume $25,000 from the MID funds, while a proposal for flowering baskets ($10,000), litter control ($10,000) and Welcome Center operations ($25,000) could possibly be paid out of the Town’s hospitality tax, according to the MID worksheet.

Finally, the MID sets aside $15,000 of its budget for a “sinking fund,” for incidental maintenance and other unforeseen upkeep.

The next step for the plan, Perry said, would be to determine a methodology by which to assess the properties in the proposed MID. The current options, apart from the per-parcel assessment that Perry said he did not favor, could be a per-acre assessment, an assessment based on the linear feet of street frontage or a value added assessment.

Perry said a subcommittee would be meeting again on the MID in July. If this MID is successfully implemented, Perry said, it could pave the way for similar improvement initiatives in the future.

“This is really our test,” Perry said.