Greenbelt Community Development Corporation Approves Bylaws, Elects Board
It's kickoff for the Greenbelt Community Development Corporation.
At its first general membership meeting, held at the Greenbelt Community Center on Saturday, the newly formed Greenbelt Community Development Corporation (GCDC) adopted bylaws and elected its first board of directors, enabling the organization to file for nonprofit 501-C status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in November.
During its kickoff, Gwen Vaccaro, who owns Pleasant Touch spa, told attendees, “We have a choice, either plan or let someone else plan our future.” Vaccaro said she helped start this corporation to assist in attracting more small businesses to Greenbelt.
Getting Down to Business
Barbara Simon, chair of the GCDC steering committee that formed May 30, also announced that Marc “Kap” Kapastin, general counsel for Quantum Companies, which manages the Beltway Plaza Mall, told her that Beltway Plaza would be a corporate sponsor, donating $1,000 in start-up money, enough to pay the IRS filing costs.
Simon said that applying for nonprofit status is the next step to getting the organization fully functional. A veteran at applying for nonprofit status for various groups, Simon said that achieving such status takes nine months to a year. She said the steering committee had already done the other required organizational prerequisites, having obtained a taxpayer identification number from the IRS and registered as a corporation with the State of Maryland.
Simon and the rest of the steering committee—Ed James, Ruth Kastner, Peter May and Gwen Vaccaro—were elected to the board as a group, in one vote, by the GCDC members and non-members in an audience of 11 total, at the time of the vote. Marsha Voigt was also elected to the board in the same vote, having accepted the nomination before the meeting. Kastner was not present due to a long-standing engagement.
Simon said that a previous effort to help Roosevelt Center businesses collapsed because no one knew about CDCs. She said a study that is about 10-years-old now had found that Roosevelt Center merchants needed help to attract patrons beyond the historic section of Greenbelt. But she noted that the entire city of Greenbelt faces development constraints that could be helped by the GCDC.
Kapastin attended the membership meeting as an individual member, but said that Beltway Plaza will become an organizational member. Simon announced that Pollo Cabana, a fairly new restaurant in Greenway Center, is the first organizational member.
Total membership is at about 30, according to Simon, who said her goal is to have 100 dues-paying members by this winter. "You can be a founding member for $10 a year in dues," she said, "whether an individual, business, or church or other organization. All have one vote each." For more information, email Greenbelt CDC@gmail.com
Janubi Devendra, director of marketing for the Quantum Companies, also attended the membership meeting, as did Greenbelt Mayor Judith “J” Davis and Greenbelt City Council members Emmett Jordan and Leta Mach. Lenny Wertz, head of the Central Kenilworth Avenue Revitalization Community Development Corporation (CKAR), gave advice.
John Mason and Lore Rosenthal, both members of Greenbelt Community Solar’s management committee, were also at the meeting. Mason told Patch that he came to the meeting because, “If we can raise money for solar panels, we can raise money for the community as well.” The group is installing solar panels at the Greenbelt Baptist Church.
A Holistic Approach
Helping businesses and other organizations in Greenbelt save money on utilities is one of the possibilities for the new Greenbelt CDC, according to Simon, who said the new organization can do just about anything that is for the public good.
“It takes a more holistic approach than an economic development corporation, so it can address all aspects of helping the community—economic, environmental, and social. Greenbelt has many groups working on specific projects, but not one group doing many projects,” Simon said. But the GCDC is different than the Greenbelt Community Foundation, she added, because it doesn’t just give grants, it also receives them and does the work itself. “We’ll be very active, that’s the whole purpose,” Simon said.
Rosenthal, who is also a member of the Greenbelt Climate Action Network, said she has a lot of ideas for green businesses that the new group might support.
Also at the meeting were Becky French and Ben Fischler, who moved to Greenbelt this past August, from Towson, Maryland, attracted by activities like the GCDC. Fischler has already attended a Pepco public meeting and the Greenbelt Homes, Inc. annual meeting in the community center.
Vaccaro said the first board meeting will be held at 8 p.m. on November 7, at 8-D Hillside Road.