Morris Park Business Improvement District steering committee moves forward in outreach

An effort to create a business improvement district in Morris Park has reached a critical juncture.

Members of a Morris Park BID steering committee, along with their consultant Joe Regina, have begun the process of reaching out to property owners and merchants in the proposed BID’s boundaries: Morris Park Avenue between Unionport Road and Williamsbridge Road.

According to Regina, some 313 businessess and 158 properties would comprise the proposed BID, and the property owners should receive an informational mailing soon, along with ballots.

The BID steering committee is working hand-in-hand with the property owners and the Morris Park Community Association in soliciting support.

The chairman of the committee is William Pedone, owner of Van Nest True Hardware and a property owner.

“The goal is to get on board 19 property owners and 39 merchants per week,” said Regina, of a plan decided on in a committee meeting on Tuesday, March 15.

Property owners must vote because BID creation requires the assessment of a fee on the commercial portion of a property that is used to finance BID operations.

BIDs operate with boards of directors comprised of property owners, merchants and community representatives.

BID boards are unique in that they also contain a representative from Small Business Services, as well as the city comptroller, council office, and borough president’s office, said Regina.

In Morris Park’s case, marketing and advertising seem to be key issues that the BID can address, as well as daily street cleaning, special events and public safety, said Regina, whose consulting is funded by an allocation secured by Councilman James Vacca.

The notion for a Morris Park BID has been around for several years, and was originally planned by a defunct merchants association, and was helped along by the MPCA, Neighborhood Initiatives Development Corporation and Vacca, said Pedone.

“I have to give a shout-out to Councilman James Vacca, who’s an enthusiastic supporter,” said Pedone, adding that the steering committee will now be looking for majority approval of the property owners and commercial tenants.

The chairman said that a Morris Park BID, which already has a proposed budget, would help in a variety of ways.

These include a general sprucing up of the area, adding pedestrian- and parking-friendly features, holding several events a year, and holiday attractions, said Pedone.

“These things are all included in the proposed budget,” he said.

The BID should also prove to be an asset to the community as well, said Tony Signorile, MPCA president and steering committee member, who is a strong supporter of the effort.

The community association president said he believes that homeowners, property owners and merchants would save money in the long term and be able continue with traditions like holiday lights along the shopping strip and the annual Columbus Day Parade.

Citing the successes of the Westchester Square and Belmont BIDs as examples, Signorile said that he believes that by the end of its first year of operation, everyone will see the BID’s results.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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