The City Council gave a major boost to the Bronx when it approved the Morris Park Business Improvement District during its session on Monday, December 11.
The Morris Park BID encompasses 188 businesses in a 1.06-mile stretch of Morris Park Avenue, between Unionport Road and Williamsbridge Road.
The BID would have a first-year budget of $390,000 and will fund marketing and promotion services, beautification, economic development initiatives, and advocacy for local businesses.
The BID Steering Committee met regularly to discuss the BID formation process, including forming a board of directors composed of property owners, merchants, residents, and local elected officials.
Al D’Angelo, president of the Morris Park Community Association, said the new BID is “going to be great for the community.”
The BID will help the MPCA, which has had to collect money from local businesses to pay for holiday lights and other things in the past.
“This way it will be taken care of by the BID,” D’Angelo said. “Hopefully, it will improve our business district, get more businesses to come in by advertising.”
He said that the BID will arrange for streets and storefronts to be cleaned, along with walkways on corners which become a mess during storms.
John Bonizio, chairman of the Westchester Square BID, said he thinks “it’s great for Morris Park. I’m glad to see the business community and commercial property owners banding together to help provide a business plan for the business district.”
Bonizio said the BID is long overdue and he’s proud to have his neighbors in Morris Park join in the process of creating solutions to the struggles of small businesses in New York.
After Mayor de Blasio signs the BID into law, the state comptroller has 30 days to review it, then it goes through a steering committee, which will act as its first board of directors, according to Bonizio, who is familiar with the process.
The steering committee will meet, elect its executive board, officers, sub-committees and begin a selection process to choose an executive director to run the BID, incorporate, draw up bylaws and go forward from there.
“It’s a long process, but it’s well worth the effort at the end of the rainbow,” Bonizio said.
From a property owner’s perspective, Sonny Vataj called the new BID “an amazing thing. We’ve been working hard for that. I own property in that neck of the woods. There comes a time in life when you have to give a little bit before you get.”
Vataj, broker/owner of Exit Realty Group, acknowledged that property owners’ taxes will go up a few cents per linear foot per month. That amount has not been made available yet.
“But if I’m going to get the neighborhood to be safer, more prosperous, I feel there’s nothing wrong with it,” Vataj said.
He said he heard there was concern about the increased taxes, but he’d rather have the streets cleaned, and not see small mom and pop businesses fail because of sanitation tickets and constant bombardment of fine after fine after fine.
“If we could implement things long-term that would protect our (commercial) corridors, I think the records have shown that if it’s managed properly, it will be a success,” Vataj said.
For a few extra tax dollars, the Morris Park business district will get their annual holiday lights, clean streets, and a thriving business corridor, according to Vataj.
Vataj, who gives about $300 to $1000 a year to Morris Park for their holidays programs and other projects, said, “If we could stop other abuse or waste that we get hit for, $300 is not going to change my lifestyle.”
The legislation was introduced by Councilman James Vacca whose funding support was vital in establishing the 75th business improvement district in New York City.
“Anybody who visits Morris Park can see its unique charm of family owned restaurants, small shops and a vibrant community of residents and merchants,” Vacca said.
“The Morris Park Business Improvement District will benefit the community as whole, building on the successful model that has led to the improvement of commercial strips throughout the city. I thank the merchants for all their hard work,” he concluded.