What Happened Next: Germantown Special Services District version 2.0

NewsWorks went back to check in on several of the stories it covered in 2012. These “What Happened Next” updates will run throughout December


Councilwoman Bass appoints nine to Germantown Special Services District, June 13 

The storyWhen the Germantown Special Services District – think the Center the City District – began in 1995, it was a well-funded operation with a paid staff, including a group of street cleaners that scoured the neighborhood to keep things looking tidy.

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Over the years, however, the public-private enterprise began to flounder as, according to former employees, dollars from the city’s Commerce Department dwindled.

Department officials told NewsWorks that the Central Germantown Council, the organization charged with overseeing the operation, wasn’t running the program as effectively as it would have liked.

By December 2011, city funding for the initiative, which was supposed to be bolstered by assessments on local businesses, had zeroed out and the program was discontinued.

A new effort is underway, however, to revive the GSSD. Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, whose district includes Germantown, is spearheading the effort.

In June, she assembled an interim board to help lay the groundwork for Version 2.0 of the GSSD.

What Happened Next? Since the summer, Joseph Corrigan, Bass’ spokesman, said his office and the interim board have been quite busy and are hoping to have the GSSD back up and running by June 2013.

The biggest task left to tackle is formulating a draft plan for Bass and the Commerce Department to review.

Corrigan expects that document – which would include, among other things, a list of what services are needed, a first-year budget and an assessment formula – to be completed by the time the holidays roll around.

The plan would then be presented to business owners during a public meeting to gauge interest. The interim board will make the pitch.

“We need people to buy into the plan if we’re going to be assessing them,” said Corrigan.

He noted that it will be critical that businesses walk away feeling confident that a new GSSD won’t be like the last one. Corrigan said showing that the folks likely to be involved with the program represent all of the “major” community groups in the neighborhood, will be key.

“It’s not just going to be our friends,” he said.

Corrigan added that it’s unlikely that a community development corporation, like CGC, will be tapped to run the program. Bass’ office will also only have a supporting role.

To become a reality, the new GSSD will have to be approved by City Council through an ordinance.

“Once we start providing some TLC to this community, it’s going to take off,” said Corrigan.

If you have any stories from 2012 that you’d like NewsWorks to follow up on, let us know at nwproducers@whyy.org

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