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Fifth Avenue businesspeople made the case for instituting a Business Improvement District (BID) on their shopping strip at a recent hearing held by the City Planning Commission (CPC). Speaking before the assembled members of the commission, at the Department of City Planning (DCP) headquarters at 22 Reade Street in Manhattan, representatives of the BID steering committee emphasized the benefits that the BID promises to bring in its wake, as well as the support the BID has managed to elicit from businesses, property owners, area residents and elected officials. The BID is proposed for a 20-block length of Fifth Avenue, between 65th and 85th Streets. At one end, it will join up with the Sunset Park BID. At the other, it will meet the 86th Street BID. The BID has already garnered the support of Representative Vito Fossella, State Senator Marty Golden, City Councilmember Vincent Gentile and Assemblymember Matthew Mirones. Basically, a BID is a public-private partnership in which property-owners assess themselves to pay for a range of amenities. These include four supplementary sanitation workers to sweep and clean Fifth Avenue, eight hours a day, seven days a week. The BID also plans to organize special events, put up holiday lighting, plant trees and flowers, and create a website for the BID with links to the websites of individual merchants along the strip. The BID would also tackle the issue of vacancies. The services provided by the BID are over and above those provided by the city. The project is very important for the community and especially for the Bay Ridge area, stressed Basil Capetanakis, the president of the Fifth Avenue Board of Trade. Recalling that Fifth Avenue had just gone through a massive renovation that had included $1.6 million worth of enhancements, he told the commissioners, The Fifth Avenue Board of Trade realized that for us to keep the beautiful enhancements and capitalize on them, we need the BID. It will give us a monetary opportunity and also professional expertise. Jim Clark, the head of the BID steering committee, noted that, Creating the BID is the second critical step in improving Bay Ridge for visitors and residents, and sustaining the improvements. Support for the endeavor had been engendered following extensive outreach, he added. The BID steering committee had held 11 meetings and done six informational mailings, as well as hand-delivering information on the proposal to area residents. There were also two public meetings, said Clark. Just about everybody in Bay Ridge supports the application, added Patrick Condren, the president of the Bay Ridge/Bensonhurst Preservation Alliance. We hope you will too. The proposed budget for the Fifth Avenue BID is $338,000 a year, with assessments calculated on front footage. The annual assessment for a 20-foot storefront would be $824.38, which amounts to $2.26 a day. The support for the BID among merchants and property owners has been clear-cut. Of the ballots received by the citys Small Business Administration (SBA), 89.5 percent were in support. SBA is the city agency charged with overseeing the formation of BIDs around the city. The effort to form the Fifth Avenue BID began approximately a year ago. However, the Fifth Avenue BID has moved forward relatively rapidly, with the BID likely to come into existence about 18 months after the process commenced. If all goes forward as planned, the BID could be approved by spring, 2006, and be in place as early as summer, 2006. There are currently 51 BIDs in the city of New York.
©2006 Community Newspaper Group
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