Arts & Entertainment

South Orange Chips In $6,700 More for Concert Series, Debates Funding Community Coalition on Race


SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – South Orange is kicking in $6,700 to keep the Downtown After Sundown concert series alive.

The series continues tonight with a performance by Dougherty & His Little Jazzbirds from 7-10 p.m. on Sloan Street.  A “bonus” concert from 4-7 p.m. on Sunday in Spiotta Park will feature Jeff Guenther's Retrofitz, playing classic Southern rock.

In April, the Board of Trustees agreed to allocate $5,000 for the concert series because the South Orange Village Center Alliance had not been able to find a sponsor (see related story here.) Since then, the SOVCA obtained some funding from Investors Bank, but not enough to continue the series through Labor Day, according to SOVCA board Chairman Matt Glass.

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“We have tried to get sponsorship,” Lisa Hackett, SOVCA executive director, told the trustees at their meeting July 22. “We have not been able to get any other funding from any other private source. We have bands that are booked and anxious to play, but we have put them on hold.”

The trustees voted 6-0 to provide additional funding for the concert series. Trustee Sheena Collum noted, “They’re very well attended.” Trustee Steven Schnall added, “In addition to the attendance, it is also a positive way in bringing people downtown.”

According to Hackett, the Downtown After Sundown concert series has offered 42 performances to date. Expenses include booking the bands, manager fees and publicity.  SOVCA has plans for 80 performances during the summer at two venues, and sometimes three, Hackett said.

Glass said the SOVCA will continue to look for outside sponsors.

The trustees also discussed funding for the Community Coalition on Race, first listening to a report from Fred Profeta Jr., chairman of the CCR board of trustees.  The village is awaiting a service-level agreement from the CCR before deciding on funding. The agreement is intended to spell out what services the village would normally provide that could be provided by the CCR instead.

Trustees Walter Clarke and Deborah Davis Ford, along with Village Administrator Barry Lewis Jr., have been working with CCR representatives on drafting an agreement.  “We tried to come up with tangible reporting requirements,” Lewis said. “It is not the type of service … that is susceptible … to being itemized.”

Davis Ford, a supporter of the CCR, spoke about her experience as a minority in South Orange and credited the CCR with making the village a friendly environment for a diverse population. “I’m requesting that we put on (the agenda) a resolution for the amount requested,” she said.

The CCR has requested $18,000 from South Orange. According to Profeta, Maplewood approved a $34,000 contribution to CCR.

Two trustees spoke against funding the CCR. “I don’t think it meets the objective of a service-level agreement,” Trustee Howard Levison said. Collum said she was uncomfortable with the organization’s past political advocacy, specifically its endorsement of school board candidates.

“For me, it’s less about the $18,000,” Collum said. “I need assurances that there is not going to be political activity from this organization.”  She added, “I appreciate what the CCR does … but I won’t be supporting them for this year.”

A resolution regarding the funding may be voted on as early as the Aug. 12 board meeting.

In other action, the board:

  • Approved a collective bargaining agreement with the police union and the Superior Officers Association for 2012-2014. This clears the way for negotiations to begin regarding scheduling, according to Lewis. Salary details can be found here.
  • Approved salary ranges for certain nonunion and supervisory personnel. Salary details can be found here.
  • Awarded a contract for $33,945 to Lighthouse Computer for video broadcasting and streaming equipment and services.
  • Approved the following hires: a full-time dispatcher trainee in the Department of Public Safety; a per diem clerk typist in the village tax collector’s office; and summer playground program staff for the 2013 season.
  • Heard a report from the Library Board.

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