Roosevelt Ave. biz owners discuss potential BID
by Andrew Pavia
Nov 20, 2013 | 763 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The proposed Roosevelt Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) that would stretch from 82nd to 114th streets has been met opposition from local business owners who fear paying the additional tax assessment to fund the BID would cause them to lose their business.

However, proponents of the BID have scheduled a series of meetings in an attempt to clear up any confusion and concerns.

“We are trying to peacefully negotiate and we are willing to work,” said Ruben Pena, a liquor store owner and community activist. “I think we will feel better if we can come to an agreement.”

Pena has been outspoken in his opposition to the BID, arguing it would drive local business out of the neighborhood and make way for chain stores.

However, after a Steering Committee meeting in November, he said that he has found positive aspects of the plan that would benefit the community.

“By bringing people like Ruben Pena, who have been vocal critics, we’re able to negotiate this plan a little bit to make it better for everyone,” said Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership and a BID supporter. “We’re making a lot of headway.”

The annual fee that business owners would have to pay would be roughly $900, depending on the size of each business. A vote on the BID by local business owner is tentatively scheduled for early next year.

At the last meeting, the committee discussed ideas such as including vendors on the board of directors, how to make the BID more affordable, and what it can do for the community.

The concept of allowing street vendors a say on the board is controversial because they do not have to pay the assessment, but will benefit from the BID's services.

However, Taylor hopes that this will limit or eliminate any friction that vendors and brick-and-mortar business have with one another because it would allow for constant discussions.

One issue that has surfaced is that the BID looks to improve crime prevention along Roosevelt Avenue, where allegedly a number of illegal prostitution houses operate through the protection of local gangs.

“They’re thriving because of the conditions along Roosevelt Avenue,” Taylor said of the gangs. “They see quality-of-life improvements and community organizing as a threat to their illegal and illicit operations.“

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