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Letter: Gateway Chamber Should Be On Paramount Review

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – The Peekskill Daily Voice accepts original, signed letters to the editor. Letters may be emailed to acusano@dailyvoice.com .

Letter to the Editor:

As you know, we have been involved in all aspects of the ongoing matters concerning the reopening of the Paramount Center for the Arts . We have been informed that the City of Peekskill has approved a review committee to examine the applicants who responded to the city's request for proposals to operate the theater.

The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce represents 440 businesses and their interests – many of whom will be impacted directly or indirectly by the decisions made regarding the next operator of the Paramount.

Unfortunately, the city did not ask the chamber for representation on this vitally important committee, and when we asked to join, our request to participate was denied by the mayor and council. We wanted to share this disappointment with you, our members. Know that we did all we could to secure a seat at the table so that your interests were represented.

We have learned informally that the director of the Peekskill Business Improvement District has been appointed to the review committee, and we agree, Jason Angell, is a good choice and will represent the best interests of the downtown. But this "downtown Peekskill only" way of moving forward is short-sighted when it comes to business and is one reason for the Paramount's closing. The Paramount must be viewed within the context of being a regional attraction. The chamber can bring a unique perspective on the selection process because of our involvement with business, government, tourism and regional economic initiatives.

In addition, we have been briefed in detail about the Paramount's past operations, budgets and fundraising activities, affording us valuable insight against which we can scrutinize future operators.

Transparency in government is essential in maintaining the public's trust. The selection of the review committee apparently was made behind closed doors in executive session with no input or representation from the chamber – the region's leading business association for nearly 100 years. While we have been supportive of many of the city's initiatives in the past, we remain a nonpartisan, nonpolitical independent entity, formed in part to be advocates for business. Our only interest here is to make sure the wider business community is represented.

We find the failure by the mayor and council to include a representative from the chamber very disappointing.

Sincerely,

Deb Milone Executive Director Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce

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