DNP suc­ces­sor takes shape

Work be­gins on form­ing new or­ga­ni­za­tion

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

A lengthy ef­fort to form a suc­ces­sor or­ga­ni­za­tion to the Down­town Ne­wark Part­ner­ship en­tered a new phase Tues­day when ap­prox­i­mately two dozen busi­ness own­ers, elected of­fi­cials and oth­ers com­mu­nity mem­bers met to be­gin ham­mer­ing out the specifics of what the new group will look like.

The new non­profit, which of­fi­cials are now sim­ply call­ing the Ne­wark Part­ner­ship, will fo­cus on the en­tire city and work to ad­dress is­sues be­yond just the con­cerns of the busi­ness com­mu­nity. Un­like the DNP, it will op­er­ate out­side the aus­pices of the city govern­ment.

“In essence, this is where the real work be­gins, with this com­mit­tee,” co-chair Dan Rich told the com­mit­tee mem­bers Tues­day night. “We’re charged with set­ting it all up and mak­ing it all hap­pen.”

Rich, di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Delaware’s com­mu­nity engagement ini­tia­tive, has been work­ing with Mayor Polly Sierer for nearly a year to re­place the DNP, which was founded in 1998 as a part­ner­ship be­tween the city, UD and down­town busi­ness own­ers.

The DNP had suc­cesses, but in re­cent years, fundrais­ing and in­ter­est in the group waned, and the or­ga­ni­za­tion drew crit­i­cism from some res­i­dents and coun­cil mem­bers who ar­gued it was in­ap­pro­pri­ate for a gov­ern­men­trun or­ga­ni­za­tion to pro­mote only down­town busi­nesses while ig­nor­ing the busi­nesses on the out­skirts of the city.

The new part­ner­ship will have three pri­mary goals: to serve an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment role for the en­tire city of Ne­wark, to cre­ate an in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing net­work for lo­cal non­prof­its and to be a cat­a­lyst for com­mu­ni­ty­wide con­ver­sa­tions about im­prov­ing the fu­ture of Ne­wark.

City coun­cil ap­proved the tran­si­tion last month, but the part­ner­ship had been dis­cussed only in gen­er­al­i­ties.

On Tues­day, de­tails of the group’s struc­ture be­gan to take shape.

At­tor­ney Max Wal­ton said he plans to file the le­gal doc­u­ments to cre­ate the non­profit and write a draft of the by­laws this month.

The part­ner­ship will have a board of the di­rec­tors – the makeup of which has yet to be de­ter­mined – and three stand­ing com­mit­tees, each charged with car­ry­ing out one of the part­ner­ship’s pri­mary goals. There will also be sev­eral sub­com­mit­tees, in­clud­ing one fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing the down­town area.

Over the next few months, the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee will fi­nal­ize the by­laws and com­mit­tee struc­tures. The pub­lic can weigh in dur­ing the Dec. 5 Ne­wark Fu­tures Work­shop at Clay­ton Hall or at any com­mit­tee meeting.

Rich said he hopes to have the ba­sics of the or­ga­ni­za­tion up and run­ning by the spring, though it won’t be com­pletely func­tional for nearly two years, he said.

Right now, much of the be­hind-the-scenes work is be­ing done by em­ploy­ees of UD’s com­mu­nity engagement ini­tia­tive, but the part­ner­ship even­tu­ally will hire an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and other staff mem­bers.

Among the part­ner­ship’s first tasks will be cre­at­ing an in­ven­tory of the city’s busi­nesses, re­search­ing how Ne­wark com­pares to other col­lege towns and cre­at­ing a com­mu­nity re­source guide that lists Ne­wark non­prof­its and the ser­vices they of­fer.

“Our cred­i­bil­ity as an in­sti­tu­tion will be judged by demon­strat­ing that we’re ac­tu­ally do­ing things that make a dif­fer­ence for the com­mu­nity,” Rich said. “We’ve al­ready been told by peo­ple who are very sym­pa­thetic to us that maybe we’re try­ing to bite off too much. To which our re­sponse so far has been, ‘No, that’s the whole point. That’s the mo­saic that makes it work. That’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the whole com­mu­nity.’”

Still un­clear, though, is the part­ner­ship’s fund­ing. City coun­cil agreed to pro­vide start-up funds but has not yet de­cided how much.

Rich asked the city for a yearly com­mit­ment of $150,000 per year for three years and said UD will be asked to make a sim­i­lar com­mit­ment. He is also seek­ing five-fig­ure con­tri­bu­tions from sev­eral large com­pa­nies in the city.

Con­tri­bu­tions from the city, UD and large cor­po­ra­tions will pro­vide the startup funds to al­low the or­ga­ni­za­tion to get off the ground. Ul­ti­mately, the goal is for the or­ga­ni­za­tion to raise at least most of its funds through mem­ber­ship fees, though it re­mains un­clear if or­ga­niz­ers ex­pect to re­quest city fund­ing af­ter the ini­tial three years.

Mem­bers of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee in­clude: Dan Rich, UD; Polly Sierer, mayor; Michael Cha­jes, UD; Chris Locke, Lang De­vel­op­ment; Marge Had­den, for­mer coun­cil­woman; Roy Lopata, for­mer plan­ning di­rec­tor; Mary Ellen Gray, cur­rent plan­ning di­rec­tor; Max Wal­ton, at­tor­ney; Lee Mik­les, co-owner of Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen; Free­man Wil­liams, NAACP and for­mer Christina su­per­in­ten­dent; Donna Hoke, owner of Unique Im­pres­sions; Heidi Marte­lock, Che­mours; Linda Ma­jew­ski, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ne­wark Arts Al­liance; Brian Horsey, Bloom En­ergy; Carla Gry­giel, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ne­wark Se­nior Cen­ter; Brian Tha­ran, Ne­wark Toy­ota World; Chris Dukes, Becker Mor­gan Group; Frankie Vas­sallo IV, Fusco Man­age­ment; Mike Ratch­ford, W.L. Gore; Carol McKelvey, Ne­wark res­i­dent; Michael Bush, UD grad­u­ate stu­dent; and Meghan Mul­len­nix, UD stu­dent.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Dan Rich speaks to fel­low mem­bers of the Ne­wark Part­ner­ship or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee Tues­day night at the Ne­wark Se­nior Cen­ter.

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