At its March board meeting, Elliot Park Neighborhood, Inc. (EPNI) members said goodbye to Executive Director Tom Reid, who is leaving to work with local attorneys on class-action lawsuits involving federal securities fraud.
Reid, a former EPNI board chair, held the executive director position for three years, during which he saw and helped guide a neighborhood being transformed by development.
"He was a huge asset," said current EPNI Board Chair Julie Kearns. "He will be hard to replace, but we're also confident we can keep the organization moving in the direction he helped get it going in."
While EPNI is reviewing applications for Reid's successor, a possible funding crunch could signal a change in neighborhood organization staffing. "We're seeking an executive director with a fund-raising skill-set," Kearns told the board.
Phase Two Neighborhood Revitalization Program money, which provides some but not all staff funding, provides $686,000 - about $3.4 million less than Phase One.
EPNI's 2005 budget of $276,709 is about half its 2004 figure of $505,640. (The organization ended a $112,000 afterschool program this year, Reid said.)
Funding for staff salaries declined from $184,276 in 2004 to $161,520 this year.
Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) strongly recommended that the board consider sharing staff with another neighborhood organization, such as Citizens for a Loring Park Community.
Kearns said that EPNI is exploring its options, but she was optimistic about the group's finances and future. "The economic climate, budget cuts in Minneapolis, are a reality, but we are very positive about the future of the organization."
Kearns said the "economic climate" isn't confined to Elliot Park, nor is it entirely negative.
"There's been a huge demographic change [in Elliot Park]," Kearns said. "We also see increased opportunity in development and [home] ownership."
EPNI has two remaining staff members; Development Coordinator David Fields and Office Coordinator Gail White.
Reid continues to work part-time, assisting with administrative affairs and the transition process. Until a new director - or some other form of staff - is hired, existing staff and board members will pitch in to fill in the gap.