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Gloucester City Festival Group Pleased With Turn Out; Some Questions Remain Unanswered

 RELATED: MORE INFORMATION ON NYMMF EVENT (July 13, 2018)

UPDATED/CORRECTED 7/6/18

William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet

 

GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (July 5, 2018)(CNBNewsnet)—On Saturday, June 23, the Not Your Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 3.38.59Mother's Music Festival (NYMMF) was held at Proprietors Park, King Street and Delaware River in Gloucester City. Spokespersons and founders of the Neighbors United are Stevie Kirchner and Danielle Neillo. Both Gloucester City residents.

Depending on who you talk to the NYMMF attracted between 2,000 and 5,000 people.

 

Gloucester City Police Lt. Steve Burkhardt, who was at the festival, was asked to estimate the number of people in attendance. "It is hard to estimate but I would say the most people we had at one time was around 2,000. Over the course of the 12 hour day, the total number of people who attended the event would be difficult to determine. We had three officers assigned to block streets around the event and 10 officers assigned to the event itself. We had no crowd problems at all and no alcohol related issues."

There was a beer tent which cost $10 to enter and $5 for a beer, according to one person who was there.

Kirchner said in her prepared statement (see below) that there were between 3,000 and 5,000 people in attendance.

 

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 12.6.34CNBNews reached out to the organizers via Facebook and asked them for an interview in the hope of getting some answers to the 50 plus comments that were posted on our website under our festival article. We also posted our questions on our website. Some of those anonymous people wanted to know where the funds raised from the festival were going to be used.

Related: Not Your Mothers Music Festival

In an interview with a reporter from an area newspaper Kirshner, the founder of the non-profit, said,"First and foremost we want to raise money to give our kids a safe place to hang out after school. The community center is our priority for fundraising for this festival." 

Kircher also said that she wanted to feed the hungry kids in the city at the proposed community center. And they want to build a skate park, dog parks, and farmer markets.

"Planning for the center started in December," Neilio said.

Using a newly formed nonprofit — Neighbors United — the plan is to buy and renovate a Screen Shot 2018-07-04 at 16.47.50building in town, transforming it to fit their vision. 

The center must address two needs in the city: enrichment programming for adults and children, and nutritional assistance for the hundreds of Gloucester City kids struggling with food insecurity at home. 

See Article

Gloucester City taxpayers provided $2,500 towards the festival. The money came from the Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) program. Kirchner said the 150 Year Anniversary Committee also gave them $2,500 towards the festivities.

According to their website, Kirchner and Neillo also received donations from the following: Anyzek, ShopRite, Girls Gone Happy, Surety, Bob Bowling Audio, MJ Consulting Group, Carpenters Union, Verizon, Holiday Inn, Magic Life Cinema, Mainstream Realty, Sara James and Camden County.

WE ALREADY HAVE A COMMUNITY CENTER (s)

Presently the city's Police Athletic League (PAL) utilizes the abandoned Brown Street School, Brown and Somerset Streets, for children to meet and lift weights.

 About a year ago we spoke with Gloucester City Police Corporal Bill Lessig, who does most of the work at the PAL center, about the condition of the building. Lessig said one of the problems the PAL faces is having enough volunteers to man the building when the kids are using it. He said it was hard getting members of the PAL to help with the maintenance of the property.

CNBNews asked Kirchner and Neillo if they had looked into that property instead of renovating or constructing another building/property.

As of today we haven't received an answer.

CNBNews wanted to know if Kircher or Neillo talked with Monsignor Bill Hodge, pastor of St. Mary's Parish, who announced in April that the parish was going to build a community center next to their Monmouth Street rectory.  In April Hodge, via the Sunday bulletin, said, "Through your generosity and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will make many long-held dreams a reality here at Saint Mary's by focusing our 70% of a new Diocese's program towards the following:  Church Community Center = Funds from this campaign will be used to purchase and renovate a nearby building that will become "Saint Mary's Catholic Community Center" and will enhance our sense of community and serve as a gathering and meeting space.  Cost $269,500."

That center, according to Hodge, would also include, "Funding for a part-time youth director and for the youth ministry program; Provide funding for community programs that offer critical services to families and individuals in need including:  An interfaith addiction support program to counsel families in distress with loved ones suffering from addiction; A resource for expectant mothers that will provide housing, childcare, medical services, and nutrition and cooking classes.   Cost $472,500 "

Related: St. Marys Announces Major Construction Plans

 The city also has a community center on Nicholson Road that sits empty on most days of the week that could be used right away. There is  also the Pine Grove Fire Hall on Jersey Avenue; since the hall sits empty the majority of the time it too could be used for a community center.

Trying to get answers about some of the costs of the festival, CNBNews submitted an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to the city on June 25. An answer to that request was received on July 3.   

According to those documents, the Gloucester City Police Department provided 16 officers for security at the festival which began at 10 AM and was scheduled to run until 10 PM that day, June 23. The officers worked a total of 152 hours at a cost of $9,641. Kircher and Neillo were billed for that amount. They were charged for four hours of overtime that one employee from the Public Works Department worked on that day for a total of $129 plus $3.43 for dumping fees for the approximate 50 pounds of trash that was removed. Total $133.

 Those documents revealed that the organizers provided a liability insurance policy in the amount of $1 million for each occurrence, damage to rented premises in the amount of $300,000, personal injury, $1 million, general aggregate $3 million and products, $1 million.

The cost to the organizers for that insurance policy is unknown. Also unknown is what the organizers had to pay to Camden County for the use of their two stages and for other equipment. Also, the county provided people at the Cold Springs School and high school parking lots, along with a bus to shuttle people back and forth to those sites. Most of the day those people were seen just standing around looking for something to do. Sunday,  the day after the festival,  the county workers were at the park dismantling the stages and barriers they had erected the day before.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 12.39.50County workers dismantling equipment used during the festival. (photo CNBNewsnet)

 In our OPRA request we asked for the cost of providing two firemen to walk around the festival that day. We also asked why firemen would be needed to patrol the event.  CNBNews also wanted to know whether or not the City of Gloucester City have made donations to any other organization that held a similar event over the past five (5) years. For example to St. Mary's Parish for the Irish Parade in 2018, 2017, 2016. Or to the to the organizers of the Shamrock Festival.  Or to the organizers of the Gloucester City Riverfront Music/Arts Festival.

As of this posting we haven't received a response from the city to those questions.

 The NYMMF group has set up a Go Fund Me page to raise more money for their planned community center. The last time we checked on July 4 they had raised $95 of their $50,000 goal. 

Below is what the organizers have written on that page.

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  We wanted to ask Kirchner and Neillo if they had a site for their community center and if they had gotten any quotes on how much it would cost.

 Kirchner provided a written statement via a person named Patty who posted her comment to the CNBNews festival article mentioned earlier.

If the women would rather answer the questions in writing they can send their answers to CNBNewseditor@gmail.com

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