Informational Meeting on 7th Avenue BID Reveals Plans for Improved Sanitation, Security, and Business Marketing

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7th ave bid plans

Business owners, residents, and community leaders came out this morning to gather information on the proposed 7th Avenue BID and show support for the district’s improvement.

So what exactly is a BID? Mark Caserta, BID consultant, explained.

The BID is a public and private partnership in which property owners, merchants, and residents elect to assess themselves. The city collects the money and gives two lump sums to the organization each year, and the organization decides together how to spend it. Unlike in the less formal merchants’ association, everyone pays and everyone benefits. The 7th Avenue BID would cover from St. John’s to 16th Street, continuing onto contiguous properties.

The group has spent over a year in the planning phase, in that time conducting a needs assessment survey. Of the 653 responses, the most prevalent concern was sidewalk litter, followed by greenery and beautification, nighttime security, and events and festivals.

Based on these responses, the group has devised a proposed budget of $300,000 which would be divided among sanitation and maintenance, some form of security (Mark mentioned the possibility of private patrols or discounts on security cameras), planting trees, marketing and events (like the recently released All About Fifth guide), and economic development. Part of that budget would also go to hiring an executive director.

Financial contributions for commercial properties would be based on square footage as well as storefront linear feet, with a minimum yearly payment of $700. Residents are required to pay only $1 a year, and non-profits or government buildings are exempt.

New York City Councilmember Brad Lander showed strong support for the BID, expressing sympathy for the frustration of feeling like tax dollars aren’t doing enough especially in regards to things “that seem pretty basic” like sanitation and security.

“I get that it is frustrating and really hard,” he admitted, continuing, “but I think this is a great opportunity, and it starts in that frustrating place. I remain very positive, because I think the opportunity here is– for a relatively modest additional amount– to have a whole lot of control over the things that, I hear from people, are most important. And that is pretty rare in government.”

He even offered support of his office and the possible use of city capital:

“If it does get created, I think there may be some opportunities to work together around streetscape improvements, and other places we can find to bring some public resources to the table.”

Michael Cairl, president of the Park Slope Civic Council, expressed support of the plan:

“The Park Slope Civic Council is extremely interested in the betterment of business life in our community and that is why we’re 100% behind the establishment of a 7th Avenue BID, and why we have extended significant resources and time to ensure that that happens.”

Cairl pointed to the “visible difference” BIDs have made on Fifth Avenue and North Flatbush in cleanliness, marketing, and fostering community involvement, and insisted that Seventh Avenue deserves the same.

“Why should 7th avenue be left out? Seventh Avenue is historically the main commercial spine in Park Slope and it would be very sad if it was left to just become less desirable in comparison to other commercial strips in the neighborhood. It’s time to step up.”

Attendees were enthusiastic to do so.

Avi Kravitz and Courtney Ebner, owners of Norman & Jules, expressed frustration with the amount of trash at the bus stop in front of their store. Courtney also suggested installing bike racks, and Avi remarked, “I would love a tree!”

Lyn Hill, Vice President of Communications and External Affairs at NY Methodist Hospital– the single biggest contributor– said that the hospital “is happy to do it, because it’s great for the avenue and great for the neighborhood.”

Mitch Szpicek, owner of Little Things Toy Store and Vice President of the Park Slope Chamber of Commerce, cited an NYU study showing that commercial property value increases by 15% in commercial districts with a BID. But it isn’t just the numbers:

“The BID is important not just because it will increase property value, but because it will revitalize 7th Avenue. It will improve the quality of life.”

The proposed BID needs support from over 50% of the residents and property owners. To help the cause get to the next stage, fill out the statement of support and tell your neighbors to do the same. For more information, check out their website, or stop in at the next informational meeting at Greenwood Baptist Church (461 6th Street at 7th Avenue) on Tuesday, March 5, at 7:00 p.m.

  • picassosurfboard

    Whether or not a BID is established, each shopkeeper in the City Of New York is required to maintain a clean sidewalk.

    It is my understanding that litter and/or snow must be removed from the sidewalk in front of a business by a specific time each morning. Otherwise, an officer from the Department Of Sanitation may issue a ticket.

    Likewise, anyone can contact the Department Of Sanitation and complain that there is litter and/or snow on the sidewalk in front of a place of business.

    The point of sharing this information with the esteem Park Slope Stoop is that taxpayers dollars are already in place for maintaining the cleanliness of all of New York City’s sidewalks, including those on 7th Avenue in Park Slope.

    Individuals who are concerned that sidewalks are untidy on 7th Avenue may ask for officers of the Department Of Sanitation to inspect locations where there is litter and ask for the situations be remedied. It is currently possible for the entire length of the 7th Avenue shopping district to be clean. If a BID is established, it can supplement the existing services provided by the Department Of Sanitation.

    If a BID is established, the denizens of 7th Avenue should not abandon the existing, paid-for provisions for keeping sidewalks clean.

  • jen

    sounds similar to neighborhoods run by organized crime where they ask shopkeepers to “contribute” to ensure that their store windows don’t get broken. Didn’t we use to have the DOE Fund send guys around to clean 7th ave.? how much does that cost? might be a less expensive alternative. currently, 7th ave has no police protection except for the undercover jerk cop that pulls cars over left and right around 1st street. police used to semi-proactive but now, if ur lucky, they’ll get to you within an hour of ur rape screams or gun shot. And lastly, who elects the exec. dir. of the BID and what is their salary?

  • Probid

    Jen- there are over 60 BID’s in the city, including 5th Avenue in Park Slope. If there is enough property owner and merchant support (in writing) it goes onto the City Council and put into law. The money is taken through the Property Tax bill and given to the BID, which is made up of landlords, merchants, residents and elected officials. There are regular elections to change board members and the meetings are open. Your organized crime analogy is ridiculous. The money pays for cleaning, beautification, marketing and events (which 7th avenue has NONE of) and some security (to be determined by the BID board if it goes through).

  • Avi Kravitz

    Courtney Ebner of Norman & Jules was misquoted. She’d like some beautiful bike racks — not lanes.

    • arebolini

      So sorry for the mistype! Updated to fix.

  • picassosurfboard

    Whether or not BID fees pay for cleaning, each shopkeeper is responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the sidewalk in front of his/her shop. BID-funded cleaning is supplemental to the cleaning undertaken by shopkeepers; it does not replace the cleaning responsibilities of shopkeepers.

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