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RE: Westfield MainStreet Plans
The Westfield Downtown Committee, Inc. began receiving its state grant monies in November 1996. Our MainStreet activities have been greatly scaled back while we awaited the long-anticipated merger with the SID, which the WDC board thought would be accomplished and operating long before now.
Administratively the Westfield MainStreet staff have been:
1. Carrying out actions necessary to keep various ongoing projects operating, i.e., the Facade Renovation Incentive Grant Program, design consultations, meetings facilitation and coordination, Nighttime Illumination Program, and business improvement workshops' planning, publicity and execution.
2. Handling the daily operations and inquiries to the office from the public regarding downtown: working with commercial real estate brokers on business recruiting and information-gathering; requests for demographics and prospective business information; referrals and facilitation of new business requests; call- and walk-in suggestions and complaints; revitalization and organizational questions from other towns; financial record-keeping; reports and other records required by New Jersey Main Street and the National Main Street Center.
3. Providing materials and information for the SID Board and for the Save the Rialto Committee. The staff has also rendered other types of assistance to both of these groups, and has assisted the Westfield Arts Council in its formation.
4. Publicizing newsworthy downtown activities and achievements.
5. Communicating with property owners and business operators through quarterly newsletters.
6. Talking with business operators, one-on-one, about the feasibility of their attending a briefing in March by RMSA, a national retail consulting firm that specializes in Mom-and-Pop businesses. The purpose is to recruit them for the one-day targeted businesses workshop we will be hosting with Main Street New Jersey here April 16.
In addition to operating expenses and staff salaries, most of the expense of the Welcome Home to Westfield month-long holiday promotion was covered by this money. The grant has also paid for Westfield MainStreet's share of the day-long visual merchandising workshop presented by the Hutensky Group last month.
In the immediate future, Westfield MainStreet will use some of the grant money to continue more of its program activities as the SID Board attempts to get organized:
1. Updating and reprinting of A Taste of the Town and the Guide to Downtown Businesses and Services.
2. Designing and editing with Kalscope, Inc. a map of downtown with ads and other information, which will be used primarily to attract out-of-town shoppers. We will distribute these regionally when they are completed.
3. Continuing supervision and coordination of the volunteers of the Save the Rialto Committee, and any other appropriate activity which arises from the situation.
4. Planning and execution of a spring promotional event in May or June with professional input. (Due to budget uncertainty, we are already behind schedule in developing an annual calendar of promotions that can be used to obtain sponsorships.)
5. Continuing stimulation of facade and sign improvements through the Facade Renovation Incentive Grant Program, working closely with property owners and tenants on 3-4 upcoming projects. WMS has received a $5,000 grant from the Westfield Foundation for the projects.
6. Conducting a follow-up parking survey like the one conducted in Mav 1994. The data needs to be updated and compared to the previous study to track the changes in parking patterns that have occurred.
There are other areas of activity involving Town government -- none of which have been acted upon -- where Westfield MainStreet has made suggestions, done research and/or provided reports. Before any further progress can be made, a response to each of these issues is needed:
1. Town Council amendments of the SID ordinance to reflect the State statute requirements for SIDS, regarding Council representation and prior approval clauses.
2. Town application for a Neighborhood Preservation Program for the Central Avenue-Cacciola Place area.
3. Town application for Designated Center status with the Office of State Planning. (Cranford applied for this designation, which confers priority in state assistance matters for the community so designated, more than a year ago.)
4. Town application incorporating WMS's design suggestions, for an ISTEA grant to make transportation-related enhancements to the train stations in relation to NJ Transit's ADA improvements currently under way.
5. Town formation of a parking management system, following WMS Parking Task Force recommendations.
6. Development of downtown design guidelines, including updated sign regulations and property maintenance requirements.
7. Development of a guide for newcomers, residential and business, on why and how to get through the variance/permit processes in Westfield, accompanied by training for Town employees to improve their relations with the public.
8. Westfield MainStreet offer to market the Town of WestfieldNisa affinity credit card in return for some of the income the Town receives from it.
9. Approval of WMS invoices for reimbursement from the $7,500 Neighborhood Preservation/Main Street grant for computer equipment and planning. (The Town has agreed to be the pass-through required for the grant, and need only sign the voucher and endorse the reimbursement check over to WMS.)
Immediately after the SID/WDC combination, WMS staff and volunteers can provide administration and supervision of the following activities:
1. Establishment of accounting and record-keeping procedures.
2. Obtain office space and coordinate setup and operations.
3. Joint board training and development of board, committee, and staff job descriptions; goals, objectives and workplans; and strategic planning.
4. Reorganize, place and train volunteers; recruit new volunteers.
5. Research and implement evaluation procedures for SID activities.
6. Design with and supervision of consultant to formulate market analysis for specialized business recruitment activities.
7. Publicize downtown developments; expand newsletter audience.
8. Develop grant proposals and fundraising targets and strategies.
End of memo.
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