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THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano
Residents and business owners, such as Frank Rafalian (pictured), spoke against the expansion of the 82nd Street Business Improvement District during a public meeting.

The resistance continues.

During the first of two public meetings on Thursday, some Jackson Heights and Corona residents and business owners asked their community to vote no to the expansion that would bring a business improvement district to the neighborhood. They brought up issues which the BID would bring such as gentrification, and the rising of property costs and taxes.

“Right now they say $1,000 annually, once the project gets approved then a little bit more, a little bit more they squeeze one’s throat,” said Sergio Ruiz, a business owner of 15 years, about the estimated yearly cost per lot in the district.

The 82nd Street Partnership, a nonprofit group promoting the current local BID covering four blocks and over 160 businesses, announced last year it would be extending all the way through 114th  Street to form the Jackson Heights-Corona BID. It was later revised to stretch from 82nd Street to 104th Street and down Junction Boulevard. The corridor will include a total of 440 lots and about 850 commercial tenants.

Tania Mattos, a member of the coalition Queens Neighborhoods United, said the group has been trying to educate the community on what a BID is, the voting process and options, and they have been cleaning Roosevelt Avenue every two weeks.

“Roosevelt Avenue does not need the BID,” Mattos said. “It needs the city to wake up, to realize it has neglected Roosevelt Avenue for decades and I’ve seen it personally. Instead the broken sidewalks, perishing and poorly maintained elevated train is blamed on the residents.”

According to Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, the concept of the BID came from every community resident she had spoken to expressing concerns about the safety and cleanliness of Roosevelt Avenue.

“They want to be able to walk, they want to be able to shop, they want to be able to come with their families and contribute to the businesses,” Ferreras said. “We have a very different and very vibrant business corridor, we deserve better, we deserve to be able to have a business corridor that is vibrant, clean and safe.”

Other business owners at the meeting showed their support for the BID and tried to encourage audience members to vote yes.

“We have to give it a chance and give ourselves a chance,” said Rosita Cali, a business owner and Jackson Heights resident for 17 years. “Let’s give ourselves the room, the chance to have the opportunity to try this and also if something comes out wrong we have the right to say that it’s not right. But if we give the opportunity and this is positive, why not enjoy all the changes?”

In the upcoming weeks, business owners, residents and property owners on Roosevelt Avenue will have to vote on whether they want the BID in their community.

“The BID is really an advocate for the business community, the goal here is to improve the shopping environment, make it cleaner, safer, more inviting and better for the small business,” said Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership.

For more information, visit JHCoronaBID.org.

 

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