All signs point to economic recession. But Community Board 10 intends to meet that challenge head on. The board voted unanimously to create a brand new economic development committee on Thursday, February 19.
“This new committee is going to be great,” board member Anne Jack said. “A lot of businesses in Westchester Square and on Crosby Avenue need our help.”
Until now, the board has barely addressed business concerns. But a global financial crisis has the district teetering between renewal and decline. Economic development, like residential development, deserves attention.
“With so many housing and zoning issues, that’s been the focus,” district manager Ken Kearns said. “But our businesses are being revitalized. We want to be of assistance.”
The new economic development committee is an outgrowth of CB10’s housing/zoning/economic development committee. It will boast its own chair – perhaps Ed Romeo of Lasting Impressions Photography & Video at 3196 Westchester Avenue.
“I’m interested in the position,” Romeo said. “I’ve been a businessman here for 21 years. I know what the neighborhood needs.”
Romeo would like to renovate Pelham Bay Station.
According to Kearns, the committee could work with Westchester Square merchants to launch a Business Improvement District. It could also sponsor seminars covering government loan, tax incentives and grants.
“We’ll have business-minded members on the committee,” he said. “We’ll have a business-minded chair.”
Board member Virginia Gallagher isn’t frightened by the prospect of a second Great Depression.” But Gallagher believes communication between business owners and civic leaders will prove crucial to the area’s success. She’ll join the committee.
“We going to meet and see what the problems are,” she said. “Where the empty stores are.”
At the top of Gallagher’s to-do list: keep neighborhood staples like groceries affordable. She’s proud of the Throggs Neck Merchants Association, the Westchester Square Merchants Association and the City Island Chamber of Commerce.
According to Gallagher, the board’s new committee will serve as a merchant/government go-between.
Jack hopes the new committee will lobby for more parking and keep east Bronx shoppers close to home.
“Let’s say you want to go to your local store, but there’s no parking,” she said. “So you go to Pelham or New Rochelle.”
The economic development committee could petition for angled parking on Buhre Avenue, for example.
CB10 operates eight committees: executive, municipal services, parks/recreation, planning, youth services, health/human services, housing/zoning and economic development.