By Bill Parry
Contrary to a published report, the project to expand the 82nd Street Business Improvement District from Jackson Heights into Corona is not on hold but moving forward.
The BID’s new executive director, Leslie Ramos, is concerned that some business owners and residents might be tearing up their ballots as a result of word on the street since the online article appeared just prior to Christmas.
DNAinfo reported that the 82nd Street Partnership plan “is temporarily on hold” and “the process has been postponed” until the new year.
“The voting has never been closed and that’s something that’s very important for stakeholders to know,” Ramos said. “The process is not on hold. We were just slowed by events like our Christmas tree lighting and Small Business Saturday. We’ve never been on hold and the ballots are still being accepted. In fact, they can call and we’ll go and pick them up because at the end of the day this is something the neighborhood wants and we’re moving forward.”
Ramos, a longtime member of the Bloomberg administration, took the position in October after Executive Director Seth Taylor’s surprise departure to assume the leadership of a BID in Manhattan.
She inherited a controversial proposal that would expand the business district from 82nd Street along Roosevelt Avenue to 104th Street and include Junction Boulevard to 45th Avenue.
The project has created a formidable opposition of anti-gentrification groups among small business owners and vendors along Roosevelt Avenue.
“That’s one of the reasons I came here,” Ramos said. “I’m very passionate about moving this project forward because we can’t have the city grow and flourish while leaving these neighborhoods behind. I took this to make sure we have a strong business district in a community of color, especially a Latino community. We deserve a neighborhood as nice as any other.”
The 43-year-old Ramos began her career at the City Office of Management and Budget, where she was in charge of overseeing all agencies responsible for the economic prosperity of the city, including the Department of Small Business Services, the Economic Development Corporation and the Department of City Planning. She went on to serve as executive director of the mayor’s Office for Industrial and Manufacturing Businesses, and the assistant commissioner for finance at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
“I only started two months ago and I am still catching up on administrative business,” Ramos said. “This process will take a long time as I’m meeting one-on-one with any business owner that wants to. I am pressing ahead on this because we need to make sure we don’t allow uneven development. I’m making my way through the community because at the end of the day we need a stable, long-term and sustainable business section.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.