STATE ECONOMIC RECOVERY BOARD FOR CAMDEN

June 20, 2003
At the Antioch Baptist Church

MINUTES OF THE MEETING

Members of the Board present: State Treasurer, John E. McCormac, Chairman; Chief Operating Officer Randy Primas; Mayor Gwendolyn Faison; City Council President Angel Fuentes; Marge Della Vecchia representing Commissioner Susan Bass Levin and Freeholder Director Jeffrey Nash; Senator Wayne Bryant, Legislative Members; Public Members; William Hosey, Robert Milner; Rosa Ramirez and Rodney Sadler.

Absent: Tonio Burgos representing Alfred Koeppe, Chairman of the NJ Economic Development Authority, Reverend J.C. Jones, Vice Chairman, Assemblyman Joseph Roberts.

Also Present: Caren S. Franzini, Executive Director of the EDA, Michael Heningburg, Asst. Counsel, Governor's Authorities Unit; Bette Renaud and Anthony DeFelice, Deputy Attorney General.

Chairman John McCormac called the meeting to order at 10:15 a.m.

In accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, Ms. Franzini announced that notice of this meeting has been sent to the Star Ledger, the Times, the Courier Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer at least 48 hours prior to the meeting, and that a meeting notice has been duly posted on the Secretary of State's bulletin board at the State House.

MINUTES OF BOARD MEETING

Chairman McCormac introduced Minister Davis of Antioch Baptist Church. Minister Davis welcomed the ERB and its guests.

Chairman McCormac introduced former Governor Jim Florio who, with Expand staff member Dean Reiche, made a presentation on the status of the lien collection process and explained how the parcel mapping that is being done as part of the process can be useful in redevelopment planning.

Clif Henry, Hammer Siler George Associates, presented an Executive Summary of the Strategic Revitalization Plan and Capital Improvement and Infrastructure Plan and highlighted the changes to the Plan that will be made as a result of public comment received.

Chairman McCormac then asked for any public comment on the revised Plans.

Kelly Frances, Camden City Taxpayers Association asked what pool of funds will the $17.5 million for transitional areas set aside come from. Ms. Franzini explained that it may come from any of the program funds and will be determined by the type of project.

Chris Auth, Camden Housing Association Network read a letter on the group's behalf with the following concerns:

-the group objects to the labeling of transitional neighborhoods
-this designation has led to city agencies sending mixed messages about investment and support of projects
-support concept of a set aside for transitional neighborhoods
-suggest 30 days pause in implementing the program in order to suggest principles for funding and would like an opportunity to present these principles to the ERB.

Professor Gilette, Rutgers Camden stated that he believes that the Plans do not address regional planning issues that are very important and feels that implementation of the Plan will result in strong possibilities of displacement. He asked how will we relocate people displaced by redevelopment and how workforce development issues critical to employment success be addressed? He also asked about the status of the Regional Impact Council created by the legislation.

Deborah Rees, Camden Housing Authority, stated that the Housing Authority is applying for a Hope VI grant from HUD and hopes that the ERB can support the application.

Mr. Primas addressed the question by saying that he felt optimistic that the City would do well on the Hope VI application as the last application by the Housing Authority for funds fell only one point short of being awarded.

Pastor Robinson, on behalf of membership of the CCOP, stated that the group is concerned about transitional designation language but encouraged by 10% reservation of funds for transitional areas. Members would like to meet with the City to discuss how issues confronting the City like public safety, job training and youth recreation development can be addressed.

Roy Davis had comments regarding Lanning Square and Lanning Square West and the recent study done there. It was his opinion that the plans for the area would displace people and are not what the residents of the area want.

Randy Primas stated that no plan has been approved for Lanning Square - a market study was done by South Jersey Builders Association and was not the City's plan. The City will embark on a redevelopment plan that will lead to a Request for Proposals for developers.

Yolanda DeNeely Aguilard stated that she is happy about the demolition of unsafe buildings that is taking place in her neighborhood. She believes that the ERB should do all it can to support the City administration, particularly in code enforcement, public works and police department.

Mark Lohbauer supports the idea of setting aside funds for transitional neighborhoods. He believes that the $437 million in school construction may lead to neighborhood revitalization and supports the use of ERB funds to build community facilities in schools.

Anna Hilton, Chair of Camden Republican Party shared her concern that seniors can't get grants and loans to prevent foreclosure. She is concerned about rising property tax issue, and City's need for more ratables.

Mr. Primas stated that as part of the Municipal Rehabilitation and Economic Recovery Act, property taxes would be frozen for 5 years. Chairman McCormac asked that Ms. Hilton address her comments to City Council as a more appropriate body for her concerns.

Frank Fulbrook of Planning Committee of Camden Empowerment Zone Corp. stated that his experience is that the poor can't help the poor and that residents of transitional areas will need support.

A representative of the Rutgers Fairview Neighborhood committee stated that it was going to be important for the ERB to clarify how it will prioritize funds and how it will ensure that the Community Advisory Board has representation from every neighborhood. Neighborhood plans should be addressed as well.

Mr. Primas addressed the comment by saying that the City is currently working on convening the Community Advisory Board and supports neighborhood planning.

Mayor Faison stated that she and Mr. Primas are working to make sure that the Board and other committees of the City have people with relevant expertise serving as members.

Ms. Franzini stated that for ERB funding, all projects must be consistent with the City Master Plan, and that neighborhood plans can be endorsed by City though the municipal planning process.

Roy Jones of the Camden Community Recovery Coalition objected to the study of Lanning Square that was done by the South Jersey Builders Association. He feels that the Plan won't work because it relies on trickle down development theories that have not been successful anywhere in the U.S.

Dan Gaby of the Excellent Education for Everyone organization talked about the need for competition in public schools and school choice as a way to attract new residents and retain existing residents.

Chairman McCormac asked that speakers share comments on the Plans only.

Lonnie Hicks stated that if the implementation of the Plan leads to gentrification, the City and the ERB must be sensitive to the existing residents of the City.

There being no further comments, Chairman McCormac asked for a motion to approve the April 15, 2003 minutes of the Board.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Primas SECOND: Ms. DellaVecchia AYES: 9

The next item was the recommendation to approve the revised Strategic Revitalization Plan and Capital Improvement and Infrastructure Master Plan.

Mr. Primas stated that he was pleased with the public comments and affirmed his commitment to redevelopment occurring in the neighborhoods. He also offered his congratulations to all those who took part in the plan process.

Mayor Faison stated that she and the Chief Operating Officer are working together to ensure that community concerns are met.

Ms. Franzini emphasized that the comments were a helpful part of the process and the Plans were changed specifically to address the comments.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Fuentes SECOND: Mr. Primas AYES: 9

Ms. Ramirez then thanked members of the community who provided comments and urged residents to express opinions and concerns going forward as well.

The next item was the recommendation to approve the Guide to Program Funds and Application.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Sadler SECOND: Mayor Faison AYES: 9

Chairman McCormac asked the Members for any updates on programmatic activity or any other business.

Ms. DellaVecchia stated that the DCA has secured a contractor for the Arlington Street demolition project and that the agency currently has contracts for 84 demolitions.

She announced that DCA would be lending a licensed professional planner to assist City Hall in reviewing redevelopment plans.

Ms. Franzini updated the Board on the EDA approval of a $396,000 loan to 1200 Ferry Ave. Associates, which operates under the name Camden International Commodities Terminal, LLC. CICT was established in 1994 to provide public warehouseing facilities and terminal operations for the cocoa industrya cocoa bean processing plant at the Port. The loan will enable the firm to build a new 50,000 s.f. warehouse facility.

Ms. Franzini updated the Board on the EDA's plans to construct a new hi tech incubator site in Camden across the street from the successful L3 Communications building.

Chairman McCormac stated that he had instructed the EDA to transfer bond funds to the five banks located in the City as a sign of the Board and McGreevey administration's commitment to the revitalization of Camden. Each bank was wired $5 million from the Camden bond issuance.

Mr. Hosey stated that American Community Partnerships has been working to place Camden residents in jobs at the Nipper building site and developing other strategies for workforce development.

Chairman McCormac then asked the public for comments.

Kelly Francis of the Camden Taxpayer Association asked over what period of time would the funds be expended.

Ms. Franzini stated that the ERB anticipated releasing funds over the next 1-2 years.

There being no further business, on a motion by Mr. Milner, and seconded by Ms. Della Vecchia, the meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.

Certification: The foregoing and attachments represent a true and complete summary of the actions taken by the State Economic Recovery Board for the City of Camden at its meeting.

Caren S. Franzini, Executive Director, EDA
Asst. Secretary, ERB