STATE ECONOMIC RECOVERY BOARD FOR CAMDEN

December 23, 2003
At Boys and Girls Club of Camden

MINUTES OF THE MEETING

Members of the Board present: State Treasurer, John E. McCormac, Chairman; Mayor Gwendolyn Faison; Chief Operating Officer Randy Primas; Assistant Secretary, Maureen Hassett; City Council President Angel Fuentes; Reverend J.C. Jones, Vice Chairman; Marge DellaVecchia for Commissioner Susan Bass Levin; Senator Wayne Bryant, Legislative Member; Freeholder Director Jeffrey Nash; and Assemblyman Joseph Roberts, Legislative Member and Public Members; William Hosey, Robert Milner, and Rodney Sadler.

Absent: Tonio Burgos representing Alfred Koeppe, Chairman of the NJ Economic Development Authority, and Rosa Ramirez, Public Member.

Also Present: Preston Pinkett III, Assistant Secretary; Anthony DeFelice, Deputy Attorney General; and EDA and the Department of Treasury staff.

Chairman John McCormac called the meeting to order at 10:05 am.

In accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act, Ms. Hassett 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.

A quorum of the ERB Board was present.

Council President Angel Fuentes entered the meeting at 10:30 am.

MINUTES OF BOARD MEETING

Chairman McCormac introduced Milford Liss, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Camden and asked for opening remarks. Mr. Liss welcomed all attendees of the ERB meeting and stated how the Boys and Girls Club help Camden children and serves approximately 2,200 children through its membership. He noted that the City and State are supportive of the Club, which is seeking to open a facility in East Camden to serve an additional 2,500 children. The children served range from ages six (6) to eighteen (18) and have been very mannerable- there has been no graffiti to the building and no reason to call the police for an disturbances. Mr. Liss encouraged everyone to take a look around the building after the board meeting.

Chairman McCormac asked for a motion to approve the October 28, 2003 minutes of the Board.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Primas SECOND: Ms. DellaVecchia AYES: 8

Chairman McCormac requested Maureen Hassett to summarize the proposed clarifications and changes made to the policy guidelines for the ERB program funds. Ms. Hassett noted the revisions in relation to infrastructure projects, grant funding, market rate and affordable housing, feasibility studies, program fees, and grant anticipation notes.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Ms. DellaVecchia SECOND: Mr. Primas AYES: 8

Chairman McCormac requested approval of the $2,039,500 recoverable grant for the Terraces Demolition Project.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Ms. DellaVechhia SECOND: Mayor Faison AYES: 8

Chairman McCormac requested approval for a $1.6 million grant for the Yorkship Square Infrastructure Project.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Sadler SECOND: Ms. DellaVecchia AYES: 8

Chairman McCormac asked Maureen Hassett to present the El Centro Comunal Borincano Day Care Center project, requesting an $800,000 loan for the construction of a new child care center. Ms. Hassett summarized the aspects of the $3.1 million project and noted that the project will create 24 new jobs.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Hosey SECOND: Mr. Milner AYES: 8

Chairman McCormac asked Ms. Hassett to present the Parkside Business and Community in Partnership Inc. housing project. Ms. Hassett indicated that the project is a homeownership project that will include market rate units. The ERB request of $395,825 is earmarked for the eleven (11) market rate units.

Mayor Faison stated that she is a Parkside resident and that the neighborhood is a stable community with residents who are committed to the improvement of the area. She added that she is proud of this project.

Marge DellaVechhia added that PSE&G and the City have upgraded the pedestrian lighting on Park Boulevard, which makes a package that is more viable to the neighborhood. Rev. Jones indicated that the improved lighting also makes the neighborhood safer.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Sadler SECOND: Mr. Primas AYES: 8

Chairman McCormac summarized the Camden Riversharks' request for a $1.91 million grant anticipation note to assist with the restructure of its outstanding debts.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Mr. Primas SECOND: Mr. Milner AYES: 8

Chairman McCormac asked Ms. Hassett to explain the HOPE VI project and the request for ERB support. Ms. Hassett summarized the $136 million, multi-phased housing project and the request for ERB to endorse the project and reserve $5 million in ERB funds for the infrastructure improvements to the project.

Randy Primas noted that the project has tremendous community support and that the County Freeholders have committed to the construction of a new library. He stated that the Camden Housing Authority had been successful in receiving HOPE grants and that he hopes the grant is approved as it will supplement the Baldwin's Run HOPE VI project and the Centerville area. Mayor Faison added that the South Camden residents were originally concerned but are now able to see that the development is happening throughout the City.

MOTION TO APPROVE: Mayor Faison SECOND: Mr. Hosey AYES: 8

Chairman McCormac requested comments and updates from various board members. Assemblyman Joseph Roberts stated that it is great to have everyone in Camden working together and that development is happening in the City. Senator Bryant echoed Assemblyman Roberts' remarks. Ms. DellaVecchia stated that the Department of Community Affairs is continuing with existing projects at this time.

Chief Operating Officer Randy Primas referred to Rev. Al Stewart and the Terrace residents that were present in the audience. He indicated that negotiations have begun to move the Terraces project forward. Mr. Primas said that Rev. Al Stewart distributed thousands of toys to children recently and has been doing so for fifteen years. Mr. Primas asked Rev. Stewart to say a few words. Rev. Stewart was excited about the promises made about the Terraces project and that he congratulates the Board for their efforts to improve the neighborhood. Mr. Primas noted that El Centro was represented at the meeting and that the project will be an additional benefit to the downtown area.

Mr. Primas also mentioned that the Governor announced last week that Cherokee Corporation submitted a proposal to the City of Camden for 5,000 new housing units in the Cramer Hill section. The $1.2 billion project will include 1000 affordable units, retail space and create new jobs. Mr. Primas noted that relocation is going to continue to be a challenge and that the Camden Redevelopment Agency and the Department of Community Affairs have developed a strategy to build affordable housing first for relocation. This would include homeownership as well as rental units. Mr. Primas acknowledged the commitment of the Mayor, the City Council President, legislators, and the ERB Board to do the redevelopment process in Camden right. Mr. Primas also thanked the Chairman for his interest in the development of Camden and his continual presence at the board meetings.

Mr. Primas talked about the training opportunities that will be available to obtain jobs, the announcement of the "Faison Mews" that was dedicated last week, which will start soon, and that developers will be announced soon for the Bergen and Lanning Square areas. He noted that the quality of life will be improved in the City and that the turnaround is on its way. Lastly, he wished everyone a happy holiday season.

Mayor Faison commended the residents for their patience and was thankful for Mr. Primas' efforts. She stated that she was glad that the City has Mr. Primas, the City Council President, the ERB board and herself working to improve Camden.

Council President Fuentes echoed Mr. Primas' remarks on a Job Training Summit that he plans to work with Senator Bryant and City and local agencies to help with opportunities to combat the high unemployment rate, which will help businesses in the community and help increase the level of homeownership in the City. Mr. Fuentes thanked the Chairman, Senator Bryant, Assemblyman Roberts, and the team for its commitment to the City of Camden and wished everyone a happy holiday. Freeholder Director Jeffrey Nash dittoed Mr. Fuentes' remarks and wished everyone a Happy Holidays.

William Hosey let everyone know about the work that happens behind the scenes at the Project Review Committees and the preparation that is done by staff. He commented that the Board is well run and it is pleasure to sit on the Board. Mr. Hosey thanked the Mayor, the COO, the Chairman, and the EDA for their work.

Chairman McCormac requested public comments. Mr. Frank Fulbrook, President of the Cooper-Grant Neighborhood Association inquired about the status of the Cooper Grant housing application for ERB funding. Ms. Hassett stated that the application is currently being reviewed by staff, DCA, and HMFA and should be presented for consideration within the first quarter of 2004.

There being no further business, on a motion by Mr. Primas, and seconded by Mr. Sadler, the meeting was adjourned at 10:50am.

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.

Preston Pinkett III, Senior Vice President, EDA
Assistant Secretary, ERB