While they have been on a three-year hiatus, former treasurer Gene Birch said the chamber never stopped paying its annual income taxes. Today, Birch said he is looking forward to working with the new steering committee to bring back annual events like the Halloween Parade.
“We had sidewalk sales, flea markets and we brought out Santa Claus,” Birch remembered. “We did a lot of good things.”
Birch said there was a time the avenue was known for its antique stores, and hopes the group will bring a new focus with business development.
“When people talk Forest Hills, they think about out there,” Birch said, pointing down the road toward Austin Street. “We’re a community, too.”
Metro-Forest Chamber vice president Anthony Zaccaria, owner of Zaccaria Custom Interiors at 10508 Metropolitan Ave., was there when the organization first formed.
He explained that after recent talk of bringing in a Business Improvement District (BID), they thought this would be a good time to get active again.
“With the way the economy has been over the last couple of years, we’re just trying to revitalize the area,” Zaccaria said. “In the past, we did sidewalk cleanups, a fair, graffiti cleanup and a number of other things.”
Today, a 10-person steering committee meets once a week on Metropolitan Avenue in an effort to form a board of directors.
James Van Westering, a key organizer behind the push for the Metro Avenue BID, is optimistic about the future of the community and said both organizations could contribute in a positive way.
“There’s no question that both the chamber and the BID could make longterm, very significant improvements for the business community at large on Metropolitan Avenue,” Westering said. “Given some time and money, we can have a major impact.”