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Forseen for the SID and Westfield Main Street Program
|Subject: Investigative Report Part1 Main Street -
Great concept and medium! Your MainStreet-SID article on the Web site is right on focus and perspective. The correction that should be noted is that you state that the "MainStreet is asking for a bridge loan or grant from Town of approximately $30,000 to keep it alive until taxes can be collected in the summer. " The reality is that our SID board has requested the bridge loan to enable the SID to start its programs and begin action.
The first budget that the SID proposed had a request for an outright grant from the Town in the amount of $25,000. That request was an official one made in writing to the Mayor, separate from the SID budget document. The Council rejected that request. The reason cited was that "seven different Council persons had seven different reasons."
The concept behind the SID grant request was that the Town for the last four years had a line item in the municipal budget entitled "downtown revitalization." The Council since Rich Bagger was Mayor has cooperated and supported the "MainStreet approach" to downtown revitalization. It had been the former Mayors and Council persons who were not ready for a SID. They were the ones who pushed for the establishment and development of the "volunteer MainStreet program," rather then the immediate introduction of a SID program back in 1992.
Many of us who were appointed to the Westfield Downtown Committee at that time and were "downtown stake holders," pushed for the immediate implementation of a SID. We were told by the "political powers," that Westfield needed this "MainStreet" introduction to the concept of Downtown management, before they would politically support the concept of a SID. For three years the town assisted by funding the MainStreet program at $25,000 per year. This supplemented the $200,000 + raised from the volunteer pledges from the residents and business owners.
The last year 1996, the request was made again for $25,000 by MainStreet but the Council only approved $12,500 and placed restrictions on use of the funds. The Councils explanation was that they were expecting the SID to be in business early in 1996. The reality was that the Council stalled on the establishment of the SID. The SID board was only enabled by the Town Council in the late Spring of 96 and the SID board appointed in Sept. 96.
Here we are now, over two years after the SID Advisory group went to work. The Chamber of Commerce and its programs weakened to a state of almost having no program. MainStreet put in the position of being without the ability to raise volunteer pledges because everyone is waiting for the SID to take over.
There is at the current time no active downtown program currently delivering the programs or services required by the SID district or the community. This even though the SID is finally established by ordinance, by-laws in place, and incorporation certificate filed, however the SID still has no funds! The process and programs for downtown revitalization require funding. The SID budget has now been separated from the full municipal budget process.
We are expecting, and have been told that the Council will hear our latest revised budget request this week at its conference session. They plan to put same before the public Council session on March 25th if they agree to it in conference. The soonest that we can expect any funding is probably mid April. That is however only if the Council approves our loan request and the SID budget as proposed. They could still bounce the budget back to the SID board, and or make line item "suggestions" or changes to the budget. This of course would further set back real funding of the SID program and further delay the SID ability to function and the process of downtown revitalization and improvement.
Please help us and get our Council to step up to the responsibility that they have accepted that of taking action! Enough talk! Enough politics! Let's get to work! The SID board is ready to do it's job. Please encourage the Council to provide us with the funds so that we can implement the SID program.
|Subj: Re: Main Street and SID, Leader on the Net
Attached is a letter I'm snailmailing in the morning to my councilmen and to the mayor. I'm also E-mailing it to the mayor. Don Weill, who was on the Save the Rialto committee, called me tonight about his concerns, too. I sense that a groundswell is developing to push and prod these folks to the bargaining table. We have to do something.
AtlanTec will send a similar letter to all of our public officials, probably tomorrow.
March 14, 1997
Mayor Thomas C. Jardim
Councilman James Gruba
Councilman Matthew Albano
I am writing to urge you to find constructive common ground in your current discussions of a Special Improvement District in Westfield. Please vote to approve interim funding for the S.I.D. and then please vote in favor of the regular S.I.D. budget that is also before you.
I am disturbed by the petty politics that have consumed this issue. Discussion has seemingly not centered on matters of principle or policy, but has degenerated into a turf battle. If this destructive trend continues, whatever turf the winner takes is likely to be barren. You do our town no service by pursuing the present course.
Speaking from my recent experience in working with the spontaneously organized ad hoc group that worked to preserve the Rialto Theater, I must say that our groups efforts could not have succeeded without the cooperation and support of the Westfield Main Street program of the Westfield Downtown Committee. We need such an organization under the banner of an S.I.D. if Westfield is to restore and sustain a healthy central business district. Without a budget, there can be no discussion or negotiation on the other substantive matters pertaining to the S.I.D.
Please find ways to conciliate and compromise in order to resolve this issue. You need to find a means to unite rather than divide your efforts if ours is to remain a healthy, viable community. The first step in the process should be to settle on a budget.
cc: Horace Corbin, Westfield Leader
|Editors Note: Investigative Report Part III will be published within the week. It is this paper's hope that as the Investigative Reports accumulate, it does not challenge this writer's knowledge of Roman Numerals.|
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