Selling a Millage
Serras's husband, Dennis, led downtown's revival as a partner in the Mainstreet Ventures restaurants. But Serras, whose bubbly persona masks a sharp marketing mind and laser-like focus, is a force in her own right. And she's proven she can convince people to tax themselves: after stepping down from MSAA in 2008, she persuaded Main Street property owners to fund a "business improvement zone" to pay for better landscaping and cleaner sidewalks.
Serras quickly lined up support from the political establishment including county commissioner Leah Gunn and former Republican mayor Ingrid Sheldon. The group's fifteen or so core members, who also include young up-and-comers like former Ann Arbor Film Festival director Donald Harrison and photographer and arts organizer Pete Baker, spent the summer drumming up support through personal contacts, a website (ournewlibrary.com), and social media.
The new-library forces cite the woes that afflict the existing structure. "The building is falling down," claims Surovell. "The last couple of years, we've had to replace an elevator, we've had to replace [air conditioning] chillers, we don't have ADA-approved restrooms, except for the first floor."