Fundraising is highest priority for new Clark Metro Director
by Chuck Hoven

(Plain Press, November 2007) Maria R. Dávila, the new Executive Director of Clark Metro Development Corporation (CMDC), says the first and foremost priority of the organization is fundraising. She is confident in her ability to secure funding to stabilize the organization and secure its future.

“I will not let Clark Metro close. I will do what ever it takes,” says Dávila. She says she is researching prospects for funding at the Foundation Library and the organization will hold a fundraiser “The Clark Metro Monster’s Ball” on October 26th.

Mayor Frank Jackson, speaking at a recent Ward 14 Forum, also indicated the importance of Clark Metro Development Corporation  demonstrating an ability to raise funds. Jackson said with limited amounts of Community Development Block Grant dollars available, even the maximum amount the city gives to organizations, about $70,000 per year, would not be sufficient to sustain the organization. He said Clark Metro Development Corporation must demonstrate its ability to obtain additional funding. He said, “Clark Metro needs a real plan that shows other revenues coming in”

Jackson indicated that if Clark Metro can prove that they can perform and do what they say they are going to do, city funding might be possible at a minimum level. Jackson noted that Ward 14 Councilman Joe Santiago currently had staff working on issues such as neighborhood cleanup and code enforcement through the offices of other neighborhood development corporations. Jackson said if the city can work with Clark Metro, he could see Councilman Santiago shifting the salaries of those workers to Clark Metro and have those services provided out of Clark Metro.

Dávila outlined some other concerns she would like to see Clark Metro Development Corporation address in the neighborhood. She said, “Safety is a big issue. I don’t want to see residents flee the neighborhood any more than they have already.”

Another goal is to get youth involved in an arts and cultural program in the neighborhood. Davila would also like CMDC to get involved in neighborhood schools and  educational programs such as Esparanza, which is housed in the same building as CMDC at W. 25th and Clark. A Clark Metro  community organizer is trying to start Reading Circles at local schools. Students at Lincoln West High School helped to put together the latest Clark Metro Development Corporation newsletter.

Dávila would like to see Clark Metro again become involved with planning for the W. 25th Street Corridor and neighborhood commercial development, find a use for the old Paris Art Theatre building which it owns, and help bring more new businesses to the neighborhood.

Dávila says CMDC Community Organizer Dianaly Martinez is currently working with five neighborhood block clubs: Barber-Vega, Fulton & W. 44, Fulton and W. 41st, W. 30th and Sackett and W. 44th and Storer.

The W. 44th and Storer block club has been dealing with problems associated with the El Tropical nightclub. Dávila would like to find a win-win solution for both the residents and the business owner. “Instead of trying to close El Tropical, I would like to help them relocate or work out the problems they have.I will happily try to help them relocate, if that is something Mr. Colon will do,” says Dávila.

Dávila would like to see CMDC continue  to troubleshoot neighborhood problems and offer social services. She said the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) staff would continue to work out of CMDC’s office.

During a recent door-to-door distribution of the organization’s newsletter some residents expressed a need for various types of assistance.  Davila said her staff would help serve as an advocate for residents and businesses trying to acquire various services such as tree removal, securing a fire hydrant or unclogging a sewer.

As for any negative feelings in the community from the handling of the last board election, Dávila says she hasn’t encountered that in her visits to residents’ homes and block clubs meetings. “I truly believe the community doesn’t want us to fail. A lot of people want us to be here.”  

Dávila says she has a good working relationship with the CMDC Board of Directors and has found them to be supportive of her ideas for the organization. She says the Board of Directors meets the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the CMDC office at 2511 Clark Avenue. The meetings are open to the public.


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