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Group to propose Merrick Blvd. BID

By Courtney Dentch

A Laurelton development group is hoping to present a proposal to create a business improvement district along Merrick Boulevard to the city this summer.

The Laurelton Local Development Corporation has been working to establish the district, which would impose a levy on property owners to pay for additional sanitation, safety and beautification initiatives, from Springfield Boulevard to the Laurelton Parkway, said Robert Butts, the group’s executive director.

But the project has been delayed by efforts to merge the Laurelton Local Development Corporation with a pre-existing group, the Local Development Corporation of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens. The two groups have many of the same goals in mind, including a Merrick Boulevard BID, but they have not been collaborating on the work, Butts said.

In order to establish the BID, the Laurelton Local Development Corporation must get a majority of the property owners to agree to the tax before it can proceed with the BID. The group and the BID steering committee have been talking with the landlords and were preparing to send out a final letter asking them to decide if they support the plan, Butts said.

“We are very close to that,” he said of the letter. “I am optimistic we’re going to get this done this year.”

Once property owners are lined up, the Laurelton Local Development Corporation must still get approval from city agencies, and the City Council must pass a bill to create the district. Butts hopes the Laurelton Local Development Corporation will be ready to make the presentation to the city in June, he said.

The BID, a formal city designation, would require property owners to cooperatively collect funds to pay for sanitation, safety and aesthetic services, including holiday lighting, decorative signs and more.

The Laurelton Local Development Corporation hopes the BID would attract more businesses to the area and stop Queens residents from crossing into nearby Nassau County to go shopping.

The project has been in the works for at least a year under the Laurelton Local Development Corporation, but another area business group, the Local Development Corporation of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens, has also been working to create a BID on that commercial strip, said Councilman James Sanders, Jr. (D-Laurelton). Sanders is hoping to merge the groups into one to create a stronger, united business organization for the area, he said.

“Both organizations are moving ahead as much as they can toward a BID for our area,” he said. “We are hampered by having two organizations, although there are moves afoot to come to reconciliation. The odds of getting a BID in this district increase dramatically with a reconciliation.”

There were negotiations underway last summer for the two groups to merge, but the talks fell through before all the details were finalized, Butts said.

“I would like to see that there is at least some coordination,” he said. “We’re all trying to do the same thing. I’m open to working with anybody.”

Leaders of the Local Development Corporation of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens could not be reached for comment.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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