New London - New London Main Street, which gets about 17 percent of its operating budget from the city, is looking at its role and the leadership of the agency.
"We are at the beginning stages of looking at what our mission is,'' said Tony Silvestri, president of New London Main Street Board of Directors. The organization may concentrate more on economic enhancement rather than one-time events, he said.
Silvestri, who was elected president last year, said part of looking into Main Street's future programming, includes "looking at who the help is."
The mayor's office is reviewing every department and every nonprofit that receives city funding, including Main Street, according to Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio.
Finizio praised Main Street and the work it has done for the city. He added that he has expressed concerns about some of Main Street's ideas, including an idea to turn the first floor of vacant downtown buildings into residences.
"New London Main Street is a great organization with a tremendous group of volunteers,'' he said Thursday. "We are in discussions with them and many other groups in the city to determine how (the) limited funds of the city can be allocated."
Finizio said the leadership of an organization is the responsibility of its board of directors and is not tied to city funding.
"The mayor's office does not and will not seek to exert improper influence on any business or nonprofit in city,'' he said. "Every single business will be given a fair evaluation."
Penny Parsekian, executive director of Main Street, said the board received word this week of the city's review.
"The Mayor's office has voiced concerns about our program,'' she said in a statement released Thursday. "Our intention has been to continue the expansion of the economic enhancement thrust of our program, an expansion addressed in our Strategic Plan."
The organization intends to ask the city for level funding, or more, for the coming budget, she said.
New London contributed about $80,000 to Main Street, about 17 percent of its $471,000 operating budget.
The organization puts on several events each year, including downtown food strolls and a holiday lights festival. Main Street also operates a skating rink on the Parade at the foot of State Street.
Main Street organizes other projects, such as putting up welcome signs and banners in the city, posting an online calendar of events and printing a downtown merchant map and guide.
"... Main Street is trying to work with the City to determine the future direction of the program in relation to the City's financial support,'' Parsekian said.