Community leaders dispute secret Douglas development

DOUGLAS, Mich. (WZZM) - Secret talks about bringing a national attraction to Saugatuck and Douglas are now coming to light -- and some local business leaders are asking why they weren't told about what's being described as an art exhibit and learning center featuring a famous author. WZZM 13 is also looking into why the library board doesn't support the project.

"There are a lot of other very important people in town that didn't say anything either," in addition to the silence from library staffers, says Martha Boetcher, director of the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library.

City leaders in Douglas and Saugatuck would not talk about the series of closed door meetings about the proposed project. Library officials say the idea is consider building a new art exhibit and literary center, which would feature a nationally-known author who isn't yet being named, where the old Haworth building is located.

"We listened to the proposal and it had very little substance," says Boetcher.

"If they are not in support of it, why? It makes all the sense in the world from a business standpoint," says Jim Petzing, the president of the Saugatuck-Douglas Business Association.

Petzing says the project could bring much needed visitors to the area.

"It would mean an incredible boost to our economy, more tourists," says Petzing. "The fact that I've not been integrated into any of these meetings I find odd."

LIbrary officials say that, from an outsider's perspective, the national spotlight and more tourism probably sounds great, but they say inside the closed door meetings it's a different story.

Library officials say they were concerned in part because there was no timeline for the project and no financial plan.

"The grants they talked about, they didn't have access to until something is finished," says Boetcher.

At the same time, library officials are asking voters next week to invest in the community's literary scene. Support for a new $5 million library is on the ballot.


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