PLAINFIELD, NJ - The Holiday issue of “Positively Plainfield” just hit city mailboxes with an invitation to board the Santa Trolley, but also a warning that the Special Improvement District group that promotes such events may be voted out of existence on Dec. 11.
Nimrod Webb had just been re-elected president of the organization in November, when he spoke out against an ordinance replacing it with an appointed Central Business District Management Corporation and an advisory board. In his message to residents and businesses this month, he recounts the events and services the SID has offered since its inception in 2004. He urges readers to contact their elected officials and speak out against trading the “democratic, private, non-profit SID” for a “municipal SID.”
The SID is funded by a special assessment which began as 3 percent and was just 1.88 percent in 2016. Businesses can apply for matching grants for security cameras or request free graffiti removal.
The ordinance creating the new organization will be up for second reading and final passage at the Dec. 11 combined agenda-fixing and regular meeting, 7 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave. Residents may comment on the ordinance, MC-2017-39, before the vote. It states, in part:
A corporation shall be formed and named the Central Business District Management Corporation. There shall be seven members nominated by the Mayor with advice and consent of the City Council. The regular term of office for the members of the District Management Corporation shall be for three years. However, two members shall have an initial term of three (3) years; two members shall have an initial term of two (2) years; and one member shall have an initial term of one (1) year. Each member shall hold office until a successor is appointed and confirmed. Terms shall commence on January 1. Any and all existing District Management Corporations in the City of Plainfield shall cease to function.
The Central Business District Advisory Board shall consist of seven (7) members who are either owners of properties within the special improvement district, owners/operators of businesses, or, located within the special improvement district; or owners of 100% residential property located within the special improvement district. These members shall me nominated by the Mayor with advice and consent of the council.
Among points in his message, Webb said the SID represented nearly 800 business and commercial property owners in downtown Plainfield and along South Avenue for 14 years. Besides the popular Santa Trolley rides, the SID holds annual block parties, car shows, and Downtown Family Fun Nights – “all free,” he notes. In addition to mailing “Positively Plainfield” to all city households, the SID maintains a website and Facebook page.
Although the SID board of directors includes the mayor or a designee and three council members, Webb said city officials “rarely attended our monthly meetings.” He named former Councilwoman Gloria Taylor as the only one who regularly attended meetings and “became one of our biggest supporters.”
Webb concluded by asking, “so is this our farewell” or will residents attend the Dec. 11 meeting or at least call or email the mayor and council to voice opposition to the change. Contact information is posted on the city web site.