Engaging and empowering residents, business and property owners, worship centers, civic organizations and other stakeholders in Newark’s South Ward to contribute to sustainable change in their community. That’s the goal of a program being developed by the Bergen-Lyons-Clinton Partnership, known locally as the South Ward Special Improvement District (SID) and the Greater Newark Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).
“The economic health and quality of life of the South Ward is always our focus,” noted Reverend Phillip A. Gilmore, Sr., the SID’s President and Pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church on Bergen Street. “With national partners like LISC, that invests in the capacity of local organizations, local partners like City National Bank and Beth Israel Medical Center, and motivated residents, business and property owners, we are working together for positive change.”
With a specific focus on Clinton and Lyons Avenues, in the months ahead, consultants will conduct a Commercial District Needs Assessment to develop a retail strategy for the two commercial corridors. Residents and business owners will be recruited through the SID to be part of the core working group for the commercial corridor improvement project to provide leadership and oversight. In addition, many more will have the opportunity to help determine the future of their local commercial corridors through stakeholder focus-groups and a formal survey.
RWJBarnabas Health is providing the support for this project, and its affiliate Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, an anchor institution in the South Ward, is assisting as a stakeholder given many of its employees are also residents of the neighborhood. Their support will also enable LISC, working with the SID, to provide micro-grants and capacity building support for local businesses along the two corridors, which may include veteran, minority, and women-owned businesses.
South Ward resident Sharon Smith, who participated in a recent meeting on Clinton Avenue, said the initiative offers hope and the opportunity to be proactive. “The people of the South Ward are invested in improving our quality of life and economic prosperity, and it feels great to be working with people who can help get things done,” she added.
The formal survey for Weequahic and Clinton Hill residents is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/southwardsurvey until June 30th. You can also email the South Ward SID for more information about the program, and other programs, services and opportunities to support and contribute to its efforts. Visit www.southwardsid.com. You can also follow news from the South Ward SID at www.Facebook.com/SouthWardSID.
By Vince Baglivo