City ‘closely’ monitoring Main Streets programs

February 1, 2013
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The Main Streets programs, which are business promotion organizations, need to have their houses in order or they might risk losing funding, according to a top City official.

The Main Streets programs are nonprofits that are separate from the City, but receive some funding and oversight through the City’s Boston Main Streets program. Two Jamaica Plain Main Streets programs have had issues recently.

“If a Main Streets program has a serious issue or an infraction, they’re not going to receive City of Boston funding until it is resolved,” said Sheila Dillon, director of the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND).

Dillon said Mayor Thomas Menino has asked that the City’s Boston Main Streets staff and herself work “more closely” with the Main Street programs in light of their recent issues.

Those issues include the Hyde/Jackson Square Main Street former executive director being charged with theft and the Centre/South Main Streets losing its nonprofit corporation status with the state, as the Gazette recently reported.

Centre/South Main Streets will hold a “meet and greet” for potential new board members Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Loring-Greenough House.

Dillon said DND has stepped up financial reviews of the programs, will ensure good training for the Main Streets boards, will ask for a yearly work plan and will monitor the progress.

But, she said, “The vast majority of Main Streets programs are functioning really well.”

She reeled off several statistics, including that between 2010-2012 the average business occupancy in Main Street districts was 95 percent, 377 new businesses have opened and 1,850 jobs were created.

“The Main Street programs are strong,” said Dillon.