DIA wants time to study Hemming
Moving ahead with a nonprofit foundation to program Hemming Plaza received a less than enthusiastic response Wednesday from the Downtown Investment Authority.
An authority committee charged with identifying ways to make the 1-square-block park more attractive to users outlined the concept Tuesday.
The committee, chaired by Jim Bailey, publisher of the Financial News & Daily Record, presented a proposal to form a new organization that would require no funding from the City and would schedule and administer events in the park Monday-Friday, year-round.
Hemming Plaza is at the front door of City Hall.
Bailey said 10 board members could each contribute $5,000 to establish a 501c3 corporation to facilitate "activities to engage people."
Oliver Barakat, authority co-chair and a member of Downtown Vision Inc.'s board of directors, said the authority should "shop the marketplace" and solicit proposals. He said it might take three to four months to explore the idea.
The City issued a Request for Information last year to determine if there were groups interested in programming Hemming Plaza.
Downtown Vision submitted the only response. One aspect of its concept is for the City to fund the effort to create and maintain a schedule of events in the park.
City Assistant General Counsel Jason Gabriel said "it's all going to depend on what the business plan is," but that if an organization sought no financial responsibility on the part of the City other than routine park maintenance, the City could enter into a license agreement to allow a nonprofit to program Hemming Plaza.
"We're in the fact-finding stage. We need another subcommittee meeting," said authority Chairman Donald Harris.
Harris, also a board member of Downtown Vision, assigned authority members to three new committees to focus on Downtown's economy, environment and experience.
The Economic Committee chair is Paul Perez, joined by Rob Clements and Kay Harper.
Bailey will chair the Environment Committee, which includes Barakat and Melody Bishop.
The Experience Committee, chaired by Tony Allegretti, includes Harris and Mike Saylor, who replaced member Don Shea. Shea relocated to Louisiana.
Harris said the intent of creating the committees was to give the authority more structure.
"It would be nice to be more like the City Council because they get a lot accomplished," he said.
The next scheduled authority meeting is 2 p.m. March 13 in Room 851 at the Ed Ball Building.