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Chamber: Lack of Input in Paramount RFP Process 'Disappointing'

Deb Milone, executive director of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter expressing disappointment that the Chamber wasn't included on the review committee for the new operator of the Paramount theater in Peekskill.


Dear Chamber Member:

As you know, we have been involved in all aspects of the on-going matters concerning the reopening of the Paramount Center.  We have been informed that the City of Peekskill has approved a review committee to examine the applicants who responded to the city's RFP (Request for Proposal) to operate the theater. The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce represents 440 businesses and their interests-many of whom will be impacted directly or indirectly by the decisions made regarding the next operator of the Paramount.

Unfortunately, the City did not ask the chamber for representation on this vitally important committee, and when we asked to join, our request to participate was denied by the Mayor and Council.  We wanted to share this disappointment with you, our members, and know that we did all we could to secure a seat at the table so that your interests were represented.

We have learned informally that the Peekskill BID Director has been appointed to the review committee and we agree, Jason Angell, is a good choice and will represent the best interests of the Downtown. But this "downtown Peekskill only" way of moving forward is short-sighted when it comes to business and is one reason for the Paramount's closure. The Paramount must be viewed within the context of being a regional attraction. The chamber can bring a unique perspective on the selection process because of our involvement with business, government, tourism and regional economic initiatives.  In addition, we have been briefed in detail about the Paramount's past operations, budgets, and fundraising activities, affording us valuable insight against which we can scrutinize future operators.

Transparency in government is essential in maintaining the public's trust.  The selection of the review committee apparently was made behind closed doors in Executive Session with no input or representation from the Chamber-the region's leading business association for nearly 100 years.  While we have been supportive of many of the City's initiatives in the past, we remain a non-partisan, non-political independent entity, formed in part, to be advocates for business.  Our only interest here is to make sure the wider business community is represented.

We find the failure by the Mayor and Council to include a representative from the Chamber very disappointing.

Sincerely,

Deb Milone
Executive Director
Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce

ED HICKEY December 22, 2012 at 05:53 AM
Now this is exactly what has been "politics as usual" in the GOP/DEM warzone known as Peekskill; more specifically, this administration follows the same "opaque" processes as the former GOP administration did, with many decisions as mentioned in this very well written and disappointing letter! What could possibly be a legitimate reason for not only "overlooking" the Chamber, but flat out denying the Chamber's request to "sit in". Although as mentioned above, the Chamber endorses the selected chosen BID director, though the "far too often asked" question is WHY BEHIND CLOSED DOORS??? Especially when the city appears, in my opinion, very disenchanted with the current leadership and their ability to serve Peekskill well, and many question the "true" agendas of the administration as too many "shady" project initiatives linger in the balance; allocated funds have not appeared to be adequately managed nor seem fully represented in the projects outcome. I am very disappointed to hear this news regarding the blatant disregard for the Chamber and the mayor/council should need to answer to the public the "transparent" reason for denying them representation.

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