TWDC president paves way for increased community involvement
by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, April 2007) Sammy Catania, elected president of the Tremont West Development Corporation (TWDC) at its January meeting, has wasted little time in setting a new agenda for the organization. At a March 8th meeting of the Lincoln Heights/Scranton-Starkweather Block Club Catania announced a new safety proposal for the neighborhood, promised to restore board committees,  and promised to meet four times a year with TWDC block club chairpersons to raise issues to be addressed by the board and staff of the organization.

Catania promised to reinstate the dormant TWDC board committees and to provide block club leaders with meeting dates and names of members of all the board’s standing committees: Executive Committee, Housing, Finance, Long Range Planning, Fundraising and Marketing, and Economic Development. Catania promised that the committees will keep minutes of their meetings and the minutes would be accessible. Catania asked that each block assign someone to sit in an ad hoc position on the TWDC Board of Trustees. Catania said he hoped to change the perception of TWDC in the neighborhood by providing residents with access to all its committees. He said he perceived that the organization was hated in some quarters of the community.

Catania said the Board of Trustees had formed a Safety Committee and asked the Lincoln Heights/Scranton-Starkweather Block Club to designate someone for that committee. Catania then outlined a proposal to create a network of security cameras in Tremont that would be linked together by a wi-fi network. He said he was counting on each block club to designate places in their service area “where there is the most trouble” so the cameras can be strategically placed to do the most good. Police will be informed of the locations of the cameras and digital recordings from the cameras will made available to police upon request when crimes are reported in the vicinity of one of the cameras.

Money raised over the past several years from the Tremont Trek has been designated for the security network. Catania said two Tremont residents with security expertise are finalists in bidding to set up the security network. Catania said he is visiting each block club to urge the block clubs to apply for grant monies for security cameras. He said TWDC would provide technical assistance with preparing grant proposals. Catania said Merrick House has already joined the security network and he is negotiating with the developers of the Valley View HOPE VI to create a wi-fi zone with security cameras. A side benefit of creating the camera security network, noted Catania,  would be that once the network was completed residents would be able to access the internet for free from anywhere in Tremont.

Catania also proposed that the Tremont neighborhood adopt one logo to identify the entire neighborhood. He suggested a logo, designed for the Metro North Block Club by neighborhood artist Julia Briggs, that  shows the word “tremont” positioned vertically on a sign with a tree growing out of the last “t” in the word. Catania suggested that each neighborhood could chose an individual color for the logo. He asked that the block club consider writing a letter of support for the idea.

Lincoln Heights/Scranton-Starkweather Block Club Co-Chair Henry Senyak praised Catania’s proposal to open the committee meetings and post the meetings’ minutes as efforts that he hoped would “open up and make TWDC more transparent.”

Editor’s Note: Links to the TWDC By-Laws, names of the Board members and staff and Board of Trustee Meeting minutes can be found on the TWDC website at


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