By Bill Parry
The architect behind the planned BID expansion from Jackson Heights into Corona suddenly stepped down this week.
Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership, resigned to take over the NoHo Business Improvement District in Manhattan just as the proposed Jackson Heights-Corona BID was put to a vote.
“I felt professionally that I accomplished what I set out to do,” Taylor said. “I’ve been here just under three years and we’ve accomplished many of our goals rebuilding the partnership into an award-winning operation while we laid the groundwork for the expansion.”
Taylor brought his extensive experience to Jackson Heights in 2012 after stints at the Downtown Brooklyn and Union Square partnerships, when the previous USP director was removed by the city Department of Small Business Services.
He said, “82nd Street is now bustling with activity and business, we replaced storefronts, improved services for local business and property owners, improved sanitation and removed the graffiti. We increased the annual budget 67 percent over the last 2 1/2 years, from $224,000 to $375,000, all through fund-raising at no additional expense to our stakeholders.”
His resignation comes less than a month after the majority of speakers at two public meetings denounced the planned expansion of the BID into a large portion of Corona’s Roosevelt Avenue corridor. The immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York withdrew its support, even though its lead organizer, Daniel Coates, sits on the 16-member steering committee for the BID.
Taylor’s opponents, especially the organizers at Queens Neighborhoods United, called the resignation a victory.
“He’s always looked down on the immigrant community of Queens,” Christian Guiñanzaca said. “This just goes to show that you don’t mess with the people and come back unscratched.”
The editor of one Spanish-language newspaper had .
called for Taylor’s resignation after he clashed with a columnist who happened to be a former professor of his at the Pratt Institute.
A lead organizer at Queens Neighborhoods United declared that Taylor was forced out.
“We definitely take this as a victory,” Marty Kirchner said. “We welcome the news and celebrate the news that Taylor was asked to leave.”
Taylor pushed back.
“That’s simply not true,” he said. “The people that know me, who are intimately involved, understand and respect that it’s a decision I made on my own and they respect that decision.”
John Rapp, president of the 82nd Street Partnership, who was most responsible for bringing Taylor to Jackson Heights, was emphatic.
“He’s taking a new high-profile job with higher pay and better benefits, all the classic reasons for taking another job,” Rapp said. “Pushed out? No, not after the job he’s done for us. He wasn’t forced out, trust me.”
City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) backed Taylor and the expansion plan.
“Seth Taylor has played an important role in organizing the initial efforts of the 82nd Street Partnership’s expansion,” she said. “After months of extensive community outreach, education and engagement, we have garnered overwhelming support from businesses and residents along the Roosevelt Avenue corridor, and we are one step closer to presenting our district plan to the Department of Small Business Services for review.
“It is my hope to bring on a new executive director that will lead us through the completion of this proposal while engaging our diverse community to deliver the Roosevelt Avenue corridor to a new threshold.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.