BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
As forecast by Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) at her State of the District speech in February, the 82nd Street Partnership announced on Tuesday solidified plans for the leadership of a proposed Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District.
The 82nd Street Partnership is a BID stretching from Baxter Avenue to 37th Avenue along 82nd Street. An expansion to the BID boundaries along Roosevelt Avenue has been in the works since 2013.
BIDs encompass defined boundaries and are funded by special fees on property owners. While their goals include improving quality of life and connecting local businesses with services, critics argue that they drive up rents, encourage gentrification and displace native residents and businesses.
According to the 82nd Street Partnership, the Jackson Heights-Corona BID will have uniquely diverse, local-minded leadership, due to a Memorandum of Understanding reached between Ferreras, the Partnership and the BID expansion committee.
The MOU dictates measures to achieve this goal, including direct outreach to street vendors, local youth and the LGBT community for inclusion on the Board of Directors. The Board will have 25 members with eight seats reserved for neighborhood tenants, and to ensure input from these tenants major BID decisions will require approval from 18 board members to pass.
“This agreement reflects the principles and goals that should guide any community development initiative,” 82nd Street Partnership executive director Leslie Ramos said in a statement released on Tuesday. “We are taking a proven program and modifying it to address the needs, culture and customs of the community to ensure that all our residents and small businesses benefit from equitable economic growth.”
Ferreras called the agreement “a triumph.”
“This is the solution our immigrant small businesses have wanted. Now, we can stand united, take the reins of our future and thrive like we have always deserved,” she said in a statement.
Workers’ advocacy group Make the Road New York rescinded its support for the BID expansion last summer, believing the expanded BID would not benefit existing property owners.
However, the organization said its major concerns were assauged by the 18-vote standard and direct outreach components of the BID agreement, and MRNY now supports the expansion.
Queens Neighborhoods United, a coalition against gentrification that has been campaigning against the expansion since its early stages, remains staunchly in opposition.
“This agreement completely ignores the voices of the community who do not want the expansion of this BID,” QNU member Tania Mattos said in a statement. “The activists of QNU have worked for two years carrying out a campaign against this initiative which will displace small businesses and the working class residents who live in Jackson Heights, Elmhurst and Corona.”
As part of the BID-formation process, ballots to gauge community support are still being collected. After ballot collection completes, a formal process with Small Business Services will begin.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.