Ras Baraka’s Accomplishments
Improving Quality of Life
Developed Legislation to Acknowledge and Address Violence as a Public Health Issue - In February 2012, the Municipal Council unanimously voted to support a resolution sponsored by Councilman Baraka to acknowledge and address violence as a public health issue. The landmark resolution highlights the public health significance of violence and suggests that the city of Newark pursue programs that identify risk factors, design interventions to address these factors and evaluate the effectiveness of programmatic efforts.
Developed Legislation to Address Complaints on Loitering - To address community concerns on noise and disturbance around retail stores, Councilman Baraka sponsored an ordinance that for restaurants and retail stores on designated streets to close at 10 p.m. Sunday – Thursday, and 11 p.m. on Fridayand Saturday.
Developed Legislation to Address Abandoned Properties and Blight – To address abandoned properties and blight in the South Ward, Councilman Baraka is in the process of developing legislation that will provide the legal framework for a Homestead Program. The program will allow for the city to deed over selected city of Newark properties that are in need of rehabilitation to qualified city residents who are willing to rehab and live in the home for a minimum of five years. This South Ward Pilot Program is underway and is anticipated to expand citywide.
Creation of South Ward General Assembly Meetings - Since July 2010, Councilman Baraka has hosted monthly community meetings called the South Ward General Assembly. These meetings have engaged district leaders, block associations and residents and have provided a direct line to city agencies to address quality of life issues in the South Ward. The meetings have also spurred engagement between neighborhoods to share best practices and ideas on improving their communities.
Expanding Opportunities for Youth – Established the South Ward Youth Council
In an effort to expand opportunities for youth to collaborate and communicate on community issues, Councilman Baraka created the South Ward Youth Council (SWYC). The SWYC provides students in grades 9-12 citywide with social activities in a safe and positive environment, while promoting individual self-esteem and leadership through participation in community meetings, events and community service projects.
Secured Funding for the Jackie Robinson Little League and South Ward POP Warner - When economic constraints threatened to eliminate the Jackie Robinson Little League and South Ward POP Warner, Councilman Baraka stepped in and secured thousands of dollars that would allow youth in the South Ward to continue to participate in both leagues.
Repaved Madison Avenue Playground – Keeping his commitment to improve recreational facilities children in the South Ward, Councilman Baraka secured funding for the repaving of the Madison Avenue School Playground. Additional upgrades included new adjustable basketball hoops and a baseball diamond.
Established the Shani Baraka Skills and Drills Summer Camp - Established in memory of Shani Barka, the Shani Baraka Skills and Drill Summer Camp opened in the summer of 2012 to over 170 Newark children. This free camp taught boys and girls the fundamentals of basketball, while instilling the foundation for confidence and team work. Guest Speakers were also invited to speak to campers about the dangers of domestic violence.
Partnered with Newark Public Schools to Launch the Ras Baraka Summer Youth Camp – In a partnership with Newark Public Schools, Councilman Barka launched the Ras Baraka Summer Youth camp in 2012 with over 75 South Ward youth. The camp has provided free workshops in art, music, dance and cultural education.
Transformation of the former Clinton Place Firehouse into the newly renovated South Ward Youth Development Center
Established South Wards Reads Literacy Program
Empowering Senior Citizens
Established Senior Committee - In 2010, Councilman Baraka established the South Ward Senior Committee as a vehicle to address issues concerning senior citizens. With the help of Former Councilwoman Bessie Walker, the Senior Committee has been involved in various activities which include Annual Senior Fitness Day and the Unsung Hero Awards.
Renovation of Nellie Grier Senior Center
Securing our Neighborhoods
Opened Bergen Street Mini-Precinct - After two years of diligent work, Councilman Baraka successfully opened the South Ward Police Substation in partnership with Newark Police Department. The substation located at1049 Bergen Street is operational and provides additional officers seven days a week, 8 a.m. – 12 a.m.
Secured Additional Patrols by Essex County Police - As a result of the efforts of Councilman Baraka and 5th District Police Captain Eugene Venable, and in partnership with the Essex County Sherriff’s Office, additional patrols by Essex County police vehicles have been added to the South Ward on Elizabeth Avenue, Lyons Avenue, Clinton Avenue and Chancellor Avenue.
Annual 24 hours of Peace Cultural Event – Councilman Baraka hosts this event along with local and nationally recognized talent to advocate for peace and gun control. The event which is held on Clinton Ave, a notoriously dangerous section of the ward, aims at ensuring 24 hours of peace, fellowship, cultural enrichment and education.
Spurring Economic Development
South Ward Special Improvement District - The formation of a Special Improvement District that will encompass a large portion Clinton Avenue, Bergen Street and Lyons Avenue. That will include safety, cleanliness and a marketing campaign that will attract a variety of businesses along these corridors.
Key Foods Supermarket - Located at Springfield Ave & 10th Street. This is the first supermarket constructed in the south ward in decades.
Shopping Plaza at Elizabeth and Meeker Avenue - Councilman Baraka with the assistance of the Economic and Housing Development department worked closely for two years to attract new ownership for the property that had been severely damaged in a fire. The damaged property sat as an eyesore for several years. The new site plans include a shopping plaza.
Bergen Street Development - The designated land will be redeveloped into 45 units of affordable housing with commercial space. The project is slated to commence in 2013. The Bergen Street Development LLC, is an African-American Company consisting of local developers.
Opening of Genesis Hope Building - Located at 634Clinton Avenue.
Renovation of 2 Osborne Terrace