Council to vote on another $1.6m for arts projects

The City Council last week introduced an amendment to add $1.6 million to a bond ordinance to cover additional costs associated with the Hamilton Street Arts District projects. A public hearing and final adoption is scheduled at the April 11 council meeting.

The governing body approved two bond ordinances and introduced six others last Monday to borrow funds for various improvements or equipment. We’ll break down the ordinances related to redevelopment projects in  the coming weeks.

An $8.5-million bond ordinance, originally adopted in March 2010, was amended to $10.1 million. The extra $1.6 million would cover additional expenses that were presented to the Redevelopment Agency earlier this month, . The original ordinance included funds for the renovation of the Bell Building into a 200-seat black box theater and related equipment, acquisition of nearby homes for eventual parking, and the future acquisition of the Elizabethtown Gas building at the corner of Hamilton Street and Central Avenue. The $1.6 million would cover, among others things, construction of a parking lot behind the Bell Building and a temporary lot where an 1,100-seat amphitheater is planned.

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A pretty wonky read, Next American City magazine offers a roundtable entitled The Art of Change, with three experts discussing, among other things, what cities can do to support the arts. Not too long but relevant considering Rahway’s efforts to make the arts a cornerstone of redevelopment efforts. One of the roundtable participants is president of Americans for the Arts, which recently released a study indicating that 41 percent of nonprofit arts groups last year failed to meet a balanced budget, up from 38 percent in 2008, with the “health of the sector at a 12-year low.”