CB 10 unanimously approved Westchester Square BID

Community Board 10 unanimously approved plans for the Westchester Square Business Improvement District, adding more support to a the BID effort that has been in the works for years.

In a vote by the general board on Thursday, April 14, members gave unanimous approval to the BID steering committee’s plans for Westchester Square, in what is hoped will be a model for other merchants associations to transform themselves into the legislated entities that provide a steady stream of funding and professional management.

The community board’s vote was an affirmation that the board will no longer tolerate urban decay and is committed to making a positive investment in a major commercial and shopping corridor, merchant leader John Bonizio said.

“We have been working on this for a very long time, and I don’t think that anyone without a financial interest in this project would be opposed to this,” Bonizio said. “The BID is good for the area and is necessary, and hopefully it will be something that will become a model for other areas of the northeast Bronx who will proceed based on the experience we have had in Westchester Square.”

Some landlords see the BID, which will come in the form of a higher property tax assessment on building owners, as an added expense.

According to Bonizio, however, mostlandlords see the expense as an investment, which would go into an escrow account that can be used for a professional district manager, as well as improvements to sanitation, public safety and visitors services, capital improvements, and marketing and promotional programs.

Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns said that the board believes in the BID.

“Community Board 10 was happy to support the establishment of a BID for the betterment Westchester Square community, and northeast Bronx in general,” Kearns said. “We expect the BID to do great things for our communities and serve as a model for other commercial strips in the board service area, and were are hopeful that our actions pave the way for acceptance by the City Planning Commission and the City Council.”

The plan for the establishment of the BID, which has been in the works since at least 2006, is expected to come before the City Planning Commission in late April.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca said he was glad that the BID has been approved by CB 10, and especially thanked Bonizio and Margaret Arrighi of the Bronx Business Alliance.

“When I first became councilman in 2006, the idea of a forming a Business Improvement District on Westchester Square was part of a dream we all had about revitalizing the area,” Vacca said. “I fully expected the community board to approve this pro-forma measure, which is the culmination of a long process, and we expect CPC and City Council approval.”

No single measure will completely turn Westchester Square around, Vacca stated, but steps like the BID, the multi-million renovation of Owen Dolen Park mostly funded by Vacca, Greenstreets in Westchester Square that he helped to have installed, and the discontinuance of off-site lunch at Lehman High School, are steps in the right direction.

The BID must also be approved by Department of Finance, Comptroller and Mayor before it can be signed into law.

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