Small business owners and local residents rallied on Sunday calling for an end to the proposed business improvement district (BID) along Roosevelt Avenue.
The BID would be an extension of the already existing 82nd Street Partnership creating the longest BID in the city, stretching from 82nd Street to Flushing-Meadows Corona Park along Roosevelt Avenue.
This extension would cost business owners roughly $2,000 a year to finance an annual budget of around $1.1 million for the BID.
“We cannot afford new taxes, and a lot of these people are so busy that they don’t come out to protest,” said Judith Garcia who has owned a real estate business on Roosevelt Avenue since 1968. “I know that no one wants to pay thousands more per year for being on Roosevelt Avenue, but that is the risk.”
Advocates of the BID say it will create safer and cleaner streets.
“If we ask the Sanitation Department to come and pick up garbage more often, I’m sure they’ll do it because we pay high taxes,” said Garcia.
Ruben Pena owns a liquor store that would be included in the proposed BID. He says local small businesses can't afford the extra expense.
“The merchants and the residents are paying extremely high rents,” he said. “The BID will increase taxes for the businesses and it’s not fair.”
At the rally, which took place in Corona Plaza, Dr. Arturo Ignacio Sanchez , a Community Board 3 member and professor of urban planning, argues the BID will push out the immigrant-owned small businesses, which will be replaced with chain stores.
“In these neighborhoods, we will be devastated,” said Sanchez. “It’s a one-size-fits-all model.”
Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras has been in favor of the BID, and argues a BID is the best way to address issues of cleanliness and safety.
“The current problems on Roosevelt Avenue hurt everyone, including our working and immigrant community and small businesses,” she said. “This is why I believe a business improvement district is a solution to this problem.”
In May, Ferreras hosted a “Taste of the BID” program that provided some of the services a BID would provide on a smaller scale.
“For the first time in our community's history, Roosevelt Avenue has finally begun a major transformation in sanitation and safety,” said Ferreras.
Ferreras promised that all opinions and concerns on the BID will be taken into consideration before a final vote of businesses and residents occurs.
“As the process for this new endeavor continues to unfold, I will remain supportive and responsive to the concerns many small business owners have expressed to me,” she said.
Over 100 local businesses have already pledged their support for the BID.
“The BID is really about organizing small businesses to strengthen themselves and draw more business into the district,” said Seth Taylor, director of the 82nd Street Partnership. “We’ve heard that people think BIDs are anti-immigrant and small business, [but] you don’t see those in other immigrant communities that have BIDs.”