Newark residents make suggestions for city's future

By Naomi Nix/The Star-Ledger
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on June 16, 2014

Newark residents gather at Abyssinian Baptist Church to discuss the city's future during a forum hosted by mayor-elect Ras Baraka's transition team.


Newark — Newark should start an after-school center, give internships to high school students and advocate for higher wages in the private sector.

Those were just a few of the scores of suggestions city residents tossed around today during a public forum hosted by mayor-elect Ras Baraka's transition team.

More than 200 residents filled a basement at Abyssinian Baptist Church in the Central Ward for one of six public forums taking place over the the next week.

The residents broke into more than two dozen smaller groups to share their thoughts on public safety, education, economic development and recreation.

Many said the city should transfer for more police officers out of desk jobs and into boots-on-the ground positions. Other said the city should do a better job of requiring companies in the city to hire Newark residents.

One group thought the city should devote more resources toward helping ex-offenders find jobs and integrate bacj into the community.

One way to accomplish that goal, might be to find more ways for offenders to give back to the city, whether it's helping neighborhood organizations or cleaning up graffiti, said Central Ward resident Elizabeth Rasteiro.

So they can "be part of something and belong," she said.

Florence Mason agreed.

"I think that will make them more responsive," she said.

Each group then reported on what they had discussed.

"I think it's important that you let the people be heard," said Sam Delgado, Verizon's vice president of external affairs and a member of Baraka's transition team.

The forum was one of several initiatives the mayor-elect has launched through his transition team to gather community input before he takes office on July 1.

Public Forum Schedule:

Tuesday: South Ward - Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church, 88 Lyons Ave., 6-8 p.m.

Thursday: East Ward - Grace Community Lutheran Church, 7 Wilson Ave., 6-8 p.m.

Friday: West Ward - Unified Vailsburg Service Organization, 40 Richelieu Terrace, 6-8 p.m.

Saturday: All General meeting - St. Benedict's Prep School, 520 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 1-3 p.m.

Monday, June 23: North Ward - Barringer High School, 90 Park St., 6-8 p.m.

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