Updated at 12:31 p.m. Feb. 5
WESTFIELD, NJ — The town intends to expand the government entity managing its special improvement district to better represent a municipality of its size, officials said.
The measure introduced by the town council last week would increase the board of the Downtown Westfield Corporation by four members, adding two residents, one merchant and one property owner.
“Our [board] is relatively small for the size of the town,” said Mayor Shelley Brindle before council members approved the measure on first reading.
Brindle told TAPinto Westfield the seven-member board would sometimes have trouble getting a majority of its members to meet. Asked about the board’s expansion, she said, there were a number of people willing to volunteer.
“We have so much talent in this town,” Brindle said. “It would be great if you could have residents with very relevant experience in retail, in commercial real estate [on the board]. It enables us to bring more experienced people to the table.”
If approved, the measure also would also change appointments of the board’s membership from that determined “by majority vote of the town council” to those “appointed by the mayor with the approval of the town council,” the regulations state.
On Wednesday, Town Attorney Tom Jardim, who drafted the ordinance, sought to clarify what he said, “appears to be a misunderstanding regarding the process of DWC Board appointments.”
“In practical terms, nothing changes with respect to how DWC Board members are appointed,” Jardim said in an email sent through the town’s office of public information. “They will continue to require the same majority vote by the Town Council as has always been the case. The sole purpose of the new ordinance was to expand the representation of the Board to better reflect a Town of our size.”
A public hearing on the measure is set for Feb. 11 at which time the council is anticipated to formally adopt it.
Kathleen Miller Prunty, the DWC’s interim executive director, said she had recommended the board’s numbers be increased.
“I recommended an expanded board to the DWC Board and Mayor Brindle to give business owners and property owners two more seats at the table during critical discussions about the downtown,” Miller Prunty said. “Plus, I’ve met so many talented Westfield residents with very specific skills and experience who can help guide the future. Eleven Board members means more opportunities to appoint people from various sections of the downtown and business sectors: retail, restaurant, personal and professional services.”
The change for the Downtown Westfield Corporation comes as Miller Prunty this month nears the end of her six-month term and the board seeks a permanent executive director.
The Downtown Westfield Corporation has seen change in recent months following the July 2019 departure of its longtime executive director.
In October, the DWC’s head of social media and digital marketing left for the private sector. Since then, the DWC has filled that position.
The board of the DWC is next scheduled to meet on Feb. 24. It meets at 7:30 p.m. in the DWC Conference Room at 105 Elm St. Click here to read the full ordinance proposed. Click here to read the existing version of the ordinance.
Clarification: A prior version of this story did not make clear the process of DWC board appointments. This story has been updated to clarify what that process is. Officials said the only purpose of the new ordinance is to better represent a municipality the size of Westfield.
Email Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @MattKadosh
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