SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Downtown Somerville Alliance re-elected Tom Genova chairman byunanimous vote at their reorganization meeting Jan. 12.
Also re-elected by unanimous vote were Pat Mannion, vice-chair; Rick St. Pierre, treasurer and Bonnie Allen, secretary.
The DSA is a volunteer board appointed by Mayor Brian Gallagher. It is comprised of merchants and property owners that engage in a variety of community and business initiatives designed to promote the economic vitality of the downtown shopping and dining district and to attract visitors to Somerset County’s “downtown.”
Genova took time to review the past year’s accomplishments while looking ahead to completing the objectives spelled out in a five-year strategic plan adopted in 2013.
“New mission and vision statements were included. Public meetings were held to get input from downtown merchants, property owners, DSA members, council members and planning board members,” he said.
“An on-line consumer and shareholder survey was conducted over a three-week period and more than 770 responses were collected,” Genova continued. “By year 2015, the DSA has accomplished the majority of the goals memorialized in the strategic plan: 20 new stores in 2015 alone.
“But more important,” he emphasized, “since 2013, the types of stores and restaurants listed in the stakeholder survey are now open for business on Main Street,” Genova said.
He also cited creation of a parking utility to manage public parking in the downtown district and praised the Division Street pedestrian mall, which has drawn accolades from state and national urban and community planners.
“We are way ahead of schedule,” Genova said, referring to the objectives of the five-year plan.
“The Mayor and Borough Council entrust the DSA with the economic well being of Main Street,” he said. “Take a moment to think about that statement.
“This is no small task,” he added. “All of the stakeholders of the entire borough of Somerville are affected by economic growth on Main Street.
“By 2018, Downtown Somerville will be recognized as Somerset County’s downtown where residents and visitors find a thriving commercial district with more than 100 independent and brand name shops, restaurants and entertainment options,” Genova said.
Listed below are the 2013-2018 Downtown Somerville Alliance Strategic Goals:
· - Manage and cultivate the downtown business mix by actively recruiting complimentary businesses. Retain existing retail, restaurant and service businesses. Continue to be an effective advocate for overall economic development activities in downtown Somerville.
· - Continue and expand our extensive communication efforts to tell people about our work and about Downtown Somerville. We will recommit to the Main Street Four Point Approach™ and involve volunteers who donate their time to our work. Continue to partner and collaborate with other organizations.
· - Continue to promote Division Street as the central gathering space for our downtown, promote our built heritage and continue to foster revitalization and beautification of our streetscape and historic buildings.
· - DSA’s extensive yearlong calendar of retail and special events cater to area families and specific market niches, local corporations and communities.
· - Our award winning marketing and advertising program that uses traditional and new media, brings ever-increasing numbers of people downtown. Downtown Somerville has become a truly regional destination for shopping and dining in Central New Jersey.
The five Strategic Goals serve as the bridge to the new vision for the future of the downtown district in Somerville, according to Beth Anne McDonald, DSA executive director. All of the short and longer-term projects (individually and collectively) move the organization towards making that vision a reality by allocating all of its financial and volunteer resources accordingly.