New­town Cor­po­ra­tion not quite dead yet, non-profit de­cides to re­group to continue pro­mot­ing town­ship and the bor­ough

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

NEW­TOWN TOWN­SHIP - To bor­row a line from Mark Twain, the death of New­town Cor­po­ra­tion has been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated.

crank Bras­sell, chair­man of the group’s board, ad­dressed the New­town su­per­vi­sors in­for­mal work ses­sion Aug. 13, telling them that de­spite a “tu­mul­tuous last cou­ple of years,” his or­ga­ni­za­tion has de­cided to keep go­ing.

“cor the last 2 1/2 years we were beaten in the head with a base­ball bat,” Bras­sell ex­claimed, “I’m sur­prised that we’re still around.”

“Dur­ing the last sev­eral months,” he ac­knowl­edged, “we thought about dis­so­lu­tion.” But Bras­sell said that in the early spring New­town Cor­po­ra­tion de­cided to “fo­cus on what we’ve done, and we we’re go­ing to do,” de­spite no longer re­ceiv­ing funds from New­town town­ship and bor­ough.

“We watched from afar and saw this or­ga­ni­za­tion de­te­ri­o­rate,” said Su­per­vi­sor Rob Ciervo. Ac­cord­ing to Ciervo, the su­per­vi­sors ques­tioned whether the group should “dis­man­tle” or be given an­other chance.

“We need di­rec­tion,” Bras­sell ad­mit­ted.

The New­town Cor­po­ra­tion de­scribes it­self as an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment body that man­ages a large pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship. Ac­cord­ing to its web­site, Al­lAbout­New­town. org, the group’s mis­sion “is to fos­ter a strong busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment while main­tain­ing har­mony with sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods and pre­serv­ing New­town’s rich his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ter.”

But hard eco­nomic times have side­tracked that mis­sion. Cur­rently, the New­town Cor­po­ra­tion is left with one em­ployee who works out of the town­ship build­ing. In De­cem­ber 2009, the salaried ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Chris Ortwein was dis­missed, lead­ing to the down­ward slide. Bras­sell says that the group is cur­rently seek­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for vol­un­teers to serve on its board of di­rec­tors.

Bras­sell de­tailed NewWRwn CRrSRrDWiRn’V finDnFes over the past year to the four su­per­vi­sors, who seemed re­cep­tive with the ef­forts to re­tool the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

How­ever, Su­per­vi­sor Chair­man Mike Gal­lagher said “I don’t see any­thing be­ing done by the New­town Cor­po­ra­tion to gen­er­ate money.” Gal­lagher also added that the group should make con­certed ef­forts to “get a de­sir­able mar­ket­ing part­ner.”

Bras­sell agreed, not­ing that they are try­ing to come up with pro­gram pack­ages and a “low cost way for busi­ness to give back to the community.”

In ad­di­tion, he said that one goal of the or­ga­ni­za­tion is to cre­ate a com­mit­tee to help pro­mote New­town’s restau­rants, as well as im­prove its web­site which would continue to high­light area at­trac­tions and events.

Bras­sell ac­knowl­edged that New­town Cor­po­ra­tion must be “in­come gen­er­at­ing.”

BuW finDnFiDO wRHV nHDrOy scut­tled the group. Ac­cord­ing to Bras­sell, there was roughly $97,000 in in­come for 2011, down con­sid­er­ably from the prior year, while oper­at­ing ex­penses last year topped $135,000.

Most of the group’s rev­enue in 2011 came from its pop­u­lar New­town Brewfest held last Oc­to­ber.

“We only made about $17,000 from it,” Bras­sell told the su­per­vi­sors. “Nor­mally it nets be­tween $50,000-60,000.”

In ad­di­tion, he said, there was no Mu­s­ic­cest in 2011. 7KH firVW DnG RnOy RnH wDV at Shady Brook carm the in 2010.

The group plans to hold an­other Brewfest Satur­day, Oct. 20 at the New­town Ath­letic Club, but it will be the only spon­sored event this year.

Bras­sell dis­closed that that hol­i­day parade in De­cem­ber 2011 broke even. The event, which he said nor­mally takes be­tween $8,000-12,000 to op­er­ate, will be run this year by the New­town Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion.

Given the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s EOHDN fiVFDO KHDOWK, 6uSHrvi­sor Rob Ciervo ques­tioned its sus­tain­abil­ity. “Community groups have to step up and help you,” Ciervo told Bras­sell.

But Bras­sell said that seek­ing fund­ing from the gen­eral pub­lic is “not the way to go now.”

Ac­cord­ing to Bras­sell, New­town Cor­po­ra­tion is go­ing to work with New­town Town­ship Man­ager hurt cer­gu­son to ap­ply for Bucks County eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and rede­vel­op­ment grants, as well as search for vi­able mar­ket­ing part­ners.

Bras­sell said that the New­town Swim Club was such a part­ner, but no longer par­tic­i­pates be­cause of owner David Platt’s on­go­ing health is­sues. In ad­di­tion, the Club re­cently has an­nounced that it plans to close af­ter the 2013 sum­mer swim sea­son.

cer­gu­son told Bras­sell that he wants to help re­sus­ci­tate the New­town Cor­po­ra­tion. “There are a half a dozen things that can be done at no ex­pense,” he noted.

In ad­di­tion, cer­gu­son said that the group has to reach put to the pub­lic to de­ter­mine what po­ten­tial busi­nesses that res­i­dents would like to see in the area. “Then New­town Cor­po­ra­tion must work to bring those busi­ness in,” cer­gu­son said.

But Ciervo ques­tioned WKH OiNHOiKRRG RI finGing new busi­nesses. “The old di­rec­tor couldn’t do it,” he “3HrKDSV yRu nHHG WR finG an in­terim di­rec­tor.”

Bras­sell ac­knowl­edged the short­falls, but asked that the town­ship look to­wards the fu­ture vi­a­bil­ity of the group. “We have some tan­gi­ble ideas,” he claimed.

Su­per­vi­sor Chair­man Gal­lagher asked Bras­sell to re­turn to the su­per­vi­sors’ Nov. 19 work ses­sion with a “writ­ten plan of ac­tion” of how the group is go­ing to ap­ply for grants and seek mar­ket­ing part­ners. Gal­lagher also asked that New­town Cor­po­ra­tion de­velop a strat­egy to work with the Bucks County Con­fer­ence and Visi­tor’s Bureau so that the New­town area can be prop­erly pro­moted.

Su­per­vi­sor Ryan Gal­lagher agreed, “the group of vol­un­teers is spread too thin ... just like any good busi­ness you have to have a plan.”

“The New­town Cor­po­ra­tion is the best ve­hi­cle to drive eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment,” he said, “I see some holes that can eas­ily be fixHG.”

Mean­while, Su­per­vi­sor Philip Cal­abro added that he would like to see the or­ga­ni­za­tion de­velop a fundrais­ing plan as well.

Bras­sell pointed out that the town­ship and bor­ough have the 25,000 res­i­dents and that large-scale events, such as Brewfest, can be suc­cess­ful.

“When it’s all said and done, peo­ple don’t come to live in the area be­cause of the gov­ern­ment ... it’s be­cause of the events and things that we do col­lec­tively,” Bras­sell ex­plained.

“We have to de­cide who were are and what we do,” he de­clared.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.