Joe knows the White Plains BID

Add this to the commitment list. A smiling Joe Thompson is set to take over White Plains Road BID.
Photo by David Cruz

Joe Thompson is a machine.

Even as he oversees the 49th Precinct Community Council and second-chairs Community Board 11, he’s now poised to lead the White Plains Road Business Improvement District.

The longtime Pelham Parkway resident has already gotten the blessing of the BID, happy with his work as interim executive director since April. Now all he needs is a formal vote by the BID’s general board sometime in July.

“I don’t anticipate any problems, but you never know,” said Thompson.

But Thompson is already devising plans to spruce up White Plains Road. “I want to spend a lot time throughout the neighborhood making sure this place is publicized,” said Thompson, a former NYPD detective. Cable commercials, newspaper ads and street fairs are some of the ideas he has to promote the BID.

Another order of business is cleaning up the area. The BID employs a street custodian who sweeps the streets with the help of a rolling cart equipped with his cleaning gear.

“He’s probably the best in the business as far as keeping the street clean,” said Thompson, who will ask business owners to clean several of the awnings that have picked up dirt.

He’s also looking to improve fire safety at the strip’s dozens of businesses by ensuring sprinkler systems work and firewalls are in place to contain a blaze within a room.

“Without a fire wall,” said Thompson, “You have a fire in one of those buildings, you burn the whole block down.”

Thompson also wants to root out panhandling and street vendors.

White Plains Road has now entered a rebuilding period, with a mix of mom-and-pop stores and several big name chains like Verizon, McDonalds and the recently opened Planet Fitness.

On the small business front, a Kids World has also opened. Moderate income shoppers hustle and jostle through the many stores the strip offers, a momentum Thompson hopes will continue.

“We’ve had a lull when we went down, but we’re coming back up,” he said, referring to a decline several years ago when many businesses closed up.

Thompson took on the role of acting executive director after beloved BID director Larry Prospect died in March.

Already familiar with the BID, Thompson saw the opportunity and took it.

“I got to know how the BID functions and I do know the community,” said Thompson, whose new role will be a part-time paid position, unlike a number of other community involvements.

Established in 1994, the BID relies on commerical property owners to pay dues to the group.

Members, a mix of store owners and landlords, in turn receive services to enhance the look of the BID.

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or email

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

More from Around NYC