Santa is once again not smiling on Morris Park.
With the New Year approaching, Morris Park’s Christmas elves have been forced to practically pull teeth to pay for the holiday lights draped along Morris Park Avenue.
The Morris Park Community Association is thousands of dollars short of from its fundraising goal.
The lighting company, New York Christmas, has deferred the $17,000 bill until after the holidays because MPCA has been a dependable customer for years.
MPCA patrols have been dropping by to ask local businesses to chip in around $100 apiece.
More than a month after the lights went up on the strip between Adams Street and Williamsbridge Road, the MPCA is around $5,000 shy of paying for them, said Al D’Angelo, the association’s co-president.
“What kind of businessman doesn’t have a 100 dollars to spare?” an incredulous D’Angelo asked at a recent MPCA meeting. “If you don’t have 100 dollars, you’d be out of business.”
Lack of a BID
Around 80 shops have chipped in, and as such received a thank-you poster to place in their store window.
But many local Grinches are enjoying a free pass on the lights without paying, said Tony Signorile, MPCA’s president.
Because Morris Park does not have a Business Improvement District (BID) like its neighbors on White Plains Road, where shops pay into a yearly fund that goes toward the lights, its shops are not compelled to contribute.
“The answer they had for me,” Signorile said of the tight pocket Grinch merchants, “was ‘When everybody starts to give the money, then I’ll pay the money.’”
The stores without thank-you posters in their windows are currently on the naughty list.
“I’ve told everybody I know to walk into those shops, and ask why they haven’t paid for the lights,” said D’Angelo, “and then just walk out.”
An annual issue
The neighborhood’s Christmas organizers have long had to deal with shops stiffing them.
“It’s almost an impossibility to get that money,” said Sal Conte, president of the Morris Park Business Alliance, which collected for the lights from 2007-2011. “You almost have to resort to threats to get $100 out of some people.”
Some businesses have complained to the MPCA that the lights are not placed precisely in front of their storefronts. Others have shooed the MPCA patrols out of their shops “like beggars,” patrol members reported.
But D’Angelo is fed up with the griping.
“It’s not about you, It’s about the community,” D’Angelo said. “Who are you punishing? You’re punishing the people who live here and like to see lights on the avenue.”