Christmas lights revival inspires big push for Morris Park BID

Fresh off a victory reviving the Christmas lights tradition, the Morris Park Community Association will use its clout to ramp up efforts to form a local business improvement district.

The group led a last-ditch effort in collecting enough money for the lights, talking local businesses into donating money.

With the lights project out of the way, MPCA head Al D’Angelo will stump with the Morris Park Business Alliance headed by Bobby Ruggiero, who has tried for years to get a Morris Park BID underway.

D’Angelo started the business alliance, tapping Ruggiero to run the group.

The majority of some 300 restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores along the strip fell way short of pitching in with cash donations for the Christmas light decorations, and remain unsure about the overall BID benefits, putting it on a holding pattern.

But Morris Park shops will also hear a pitch from Joe Regina, director of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce newly-created merchant development committee, which helps business areas like Morris Park start BIDs.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca asked Regina, a pragmatist with a sharp business acumen, to lead the development committee after Regina and John Bonizio, owner of Metro Optics Eyewear, successfully formed the Westchester Square BID.

“We’re using the Westchester Square model,” noted Regina, who describes a Morris Park BID as a “win, win, win, win. The merchants win, the property owners win, the community wins and the Bronx wins.”

In the next few months, Regina and his staff will go shop-to-shop, detailing the benefits for a BID, which collects dues from property owners.

Money will spruce up businesses throughout the area and will also go towards venues like the Christmas light decorations and the Bronx Columbus Day Parade. In already established BIDs, most property owners steer assessment fees onto its merchants.

“They hear money and they shy away,” said D’Angelo. “They should hear the plan out, because it’s a good one.”

Regina is focusing on outlining the BID benefits to Morris Park merchants. “We’re just going left foot, right foot until we need to get where we need to get,” said Regina.

Bonizio, also head of the Westchester Square BID, and Joe Thompson, executive director of the White Plains Road BID, will also pitch in.

Bonizio and Regina have also been working to help form a Throggs Neck BID.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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