Merchants Question Directory Plan
The solicitation includes an undated cover letter in English and Spanish from Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs on city letterhead, an advertisement request form for ads ranging from a $10 listing to an $1,800 back cover and an ad size chart. The dubious part, at least to the merchant, was that checks or money orders were apparently to be made out to an individual, not a company or organization, with no refunds.
Members of Plainfield merchant groups drew a blank on the proposed directory, pointing out the Special Improvement District and Chamber of Commerce jointly sponsor a quarterly publication called Positively Plainfield that includes a business directory at no charge to merchants. (Correction: It is a SID publication only.)
The mayor’s letter urges cooperation with “Mr. Ray Mikell,” which is also the name listed to receive fees for ad requests. A call to the phone number listed on the ad request form resulted in a message saying Ray Mikell is “a design and concept company for municipalities.” Fees are to be mailed to a city post office box.
Plaintalker called the Rahway Center Partnership, where Ray Mikell is listed as executive director, but Mikell was on another line and did not return the phone call by the close of business hours Tuesday. A call to the mayor also was not returned. The Rahway Center Partnership recently published an 80-page business directory, which is online on the group's web site.
The perplexed merchant who questioned the request said he never heard of having to send fees to an individual, not even for his high school reunion.
Suburban Jeweler owner Lisa Cohen, a past SID president, said she found it “concerning” that business might be going to a competing SID. Donna Albanese of the Plainwood Square Merchants Association said she had not received the solicitation letter and pointed out the Plainfield directory provided “at no charge” to business owners.