Today’s news:

City awards $20K grant to BID plan

The Laurelton Local Development Corporation was awarded a city grant to aid in the creation of a business improvement district along Merrick Boulevard, the Department of Small Business Services said.

The group received the money - a $20,000 grant - from the city agency to pay for a marketing effort to galvanize support for the BID, which would cover 19 blocks on Merrick Boulevard from Springfield Boulevard to Laurelton Parkway.

The BID would allow the stores and offices to cooperatively collect funds to pay for sanitation and aesthetic services, including holiday lighting and decorative signs. An official city designation, a BID requires that half the property owners are willing to participate, and the Merrick Boulevard stores have been receptive to the idea, said Sidney Holmes, chairman of the LLDC board.

"This is a very strong application, and I believe it has enormous potential to strengthen Laurelton's commercial district and provide better safety and more stores for shoppers," said Robert Walsh, commissioner of SBS. "The area is losing too much business to Nassau County and it's time we help develop this strip into an attractive area for people to do business."

The LLDC hopes to attract residents from Laurelton and other areas to the Merrick Boulevard stores rather than lose the business to Nassau County outlets such as the Green Acres shopping mall just over the border.

It will probably be another six months before the LLDC has the necessary majority needed to present the BID proposal to the city, Holmes said.

The LLDC, whose office is at 226-18 Merrick Blvd., also wants to tackle development planning to match businesses with vacant storefronts on Merrick Boulevard. There are about 30 vacancies on the thoroughfare within the 19-block stretch, Holmes said.

"I commend Sidney Holmes for his leadership thus far and look forward to working with the LLDC to foster their development and increase their membership as they work toward their BID status," Walsh said.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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