Montrose association looks to add an ambassador, plug into social media

The association in charge of the Montrose Shopping Park is looking to add another employee to its ranks, making it the city's only business improvement group with such a robust workforce.

The Montrose Shopping Park Assn. board of directors, which decides how roughly $360,000 gets spent to promote the quaint shopping district along Honolulu Avenue, is mulling over adding a “Montrose Ambassador” to meet with business owners and bring their comments or complaints back to the board.

“It will certainly be a dollar well spent,” said Executive Director Dale Dawson at a meeting Thursday.

The board is trying to improve its relationship with business owners who have long complained about feeling disconnected from the day-to-day decision making. Businesses in the shopping park must pay an annual fee to the association to promote the area. The fees total roughly $130,000 a year.

A filming liaison also gets 10% of filming fees paid by production companies to shoot at the shopping park. Shoots run between $1,500 to $3,000 each.

The shopping park association is trying to turn a new leaf after several recent snags, including an investigation into an alleged embezzlement case involving the weekly Harvest Market and former Councilman John Drayman. Two long-term board members stepped down last election, introducing new blood into the leadership ranks. And the park has made several changes to the Harvest Market in light of violations noted by agriculture and health officials.

The shopping park currently has an executive director and an events coordinator. Dawson, the executive director, earns $18,000 a year, while the events coordinator, Linda McMenamin, makes $12,000 annually. The ambassador would make $4,800 a year.

There's another business improvement district in Adams Square, but it does not have any employees, said Glendale's chief assistant director of community development, Philip Lanzafame.

“They have the critical mass to do that. Adams Square is a smaller operation,” he said.

Adams Square expects $20,800 in income in 2012, according to its annual budget.

Ken Grayson, board president for the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., said he wanted to hire Steve Pierce, a fixture in the community, as ambassador. Several on the board supported the selection Thursday, but said they wanted to solidify the position's duties and contract before bringing Pierce on board.

In a phone interview, Pierce said he'd be open to the job, which he's been doing voluntarily for months.

“I like being out there. I like talking to the people,” he said.

Board member Jake Menachian questioned the extra spending, noting that he thought the ambassador's duties were taken care of by the executive director. Dawson said that in the past, each board member was selected to be a block captain to do “ambassador” work, but that system has never panned out.

“Four hundred [dollars a month] is not a lot of money, but then again, we got to take it from somewhere,” Menachian said.

In addition to the new position, the board is also reviewing creating a new website and setting up a social media committee to tackle Facebook and Twitter.

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