Rahway City Council assumes management of Special Improvement District

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RAHWAY, NJ — The Rahway City Council terminated the Rahway Arts and Business Partnership, a nonprofit corporation, with a unanimously approved ordinance at a special meeting on Wednesday, May 19. Effective as of July, the city’s Special Improvement District is managed by the council.

“The function of managing the Special Improvement District was transferred over to City Council,” Rahway business administrator Bob Landolfi said on Friday, Aug. 6. “With that, there was no longer a need for the RABP to function. The function was to be the management board to the SID. Once we transferred that to the City Council, there was no need for them to exist.

“What the council will be doing, as the management entity, is overseeing the activities of the SID, based on taxes that are collected. As the management entity, that’s the only responsibility they would be taking on. There’s a lot entailed in doing that.”

Landolfi said the city would encourage economic development throughout the community, certainly in the downtown, by having all the entities work for the same goals.

“There are three entities: the city, the redevelopment agency and the Special Improvement District,” he said. “So, using a car analogy, we really see the SID as one of the pistons of the economic development engine or one of the spokes on the wheel, so to speak. But we see them as a valuable part of that economic development process that needs to take place.”

The RABP had been helping the Central Business District with events such as Cultural Crawl, Taste of Rahway, etc.

According to a press release issued on Monday, July 12, by Rahway public relations coordinator Lauren Ferrigno, “It is important for the SID to expand its focus not only geographically but beyond its traditional events-oriented emphasis. While continuing to present and collaborate on events, which tend to mostly benefit our restaurant and retail establishments, under the City Council, the SID will deepen its involvement with activities that support true economic development and the benefits that can bring for all businesses and property owners. Assessments under the expanded SID produce a significant amount of funding, and it is critical that the funding be utilized in a way that produces the greatest benefit for all business and property owners and for Rahway as a whole.”

The press release also said the ordinance establishes a Rahway Art and Business Advisory board, with five voting members appointed by the mayor and additional nonvoting members consisting of city officials and staff, assuring there will be representation and input from business and property owners throughout the city.

The boundaries of the SID were expanded in 2019 from its traditional downtown footprint to incorporate commercial properties citywide. Property and business owners throughout the city fund the SID through assessments.

Referring to the new RABA board, Landolfi said, “The activities and the focus need to be more than just events in the downtown. They needed to be broadened out to encompass the entire city, which now is the boundaries of the SID. We needed to change the focus from events in the downtown to economic development throughout the entire city. Hopefully, that’s the mission the council will go on as the management entity.

“The RABA are business and property owners throughout the downtown,” he continued. “Council thought it was important that they get advisory input from property and business owners. It’s that simple. They’re the people that are paying the tax, have investments in the community, the people that live in the community and do business in the community. So the thought was to get an advisory board together and solicit input from those folks.”

Landolfi said he is optimistic about this and said everyone is working together toward a common goal. The press release said it is expected that the new board will result in enhanced collaboration between the city, the SID, the Rahway Redevelopment Agency, and business and property owners, with improvements in coordination, communication, timing and oversight.

“We’re very confident that the City Council will move in concert with the administrative function to the city and the redevelopment agency in a comprehensive, cohesive way,” Landolfi said. “We’re confident that’s going to happen. Everyone is going to work in concert for the common goal.”

Photos Courtesy of Rahway