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March 12, 2000, Sunday
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THE CITY; Letters; Rebutting a Critic of BID's

District Benefit Many Constituencies, Proponents Say

To the Editor:

In ''Why BID's Are Bad Business'' (Soapbox, Feb. 13), Moshe Adler seeks to concoct a case that the Downtown Alliance is somehow anti-commercial-tenant, anti-retailer and anti-worker by being pro-resident. This argument has about as much intellectual validity as does banging on the table.

When the Downtown Alliance began, a little more than five years ago, Lower Manhattan had almost 25 million square feet of vacant commercial space, was a one-dimensional 9-to-5, Monday through Friday commercial district and had lost 75,000 workers since the beginning of the last decade.

Today, thanks to a constructive partnership between the entire downtown community and government, Lower Manhattan is thriving once again. Property owners, commercial tenants, workers, retailers and restaurants, hotels, new residents and visitors all share in the benefits of a dramatically transformed neighborhood.

The Downtown Alliance's 40-person board of directors includes almost every conceivable interest. The local Community Board appoints 10 percent of the directors. Retailers, commercial tenants, nonprofit organizations and residents are well represented. And, even though by law a majority of directors must be property owners, on our board most of the property owners are also the occupants of the buildings they own. Our most recent research reveals that 82 percent of downtown workers are ''very satisfied'' with working in the downtown community and that 91 percent of downtown residents are ''very satisfied'' with living there.

As for retail, the best evidence comes from the retailers themselves. In 1997, the retail-dominated Nassau Street Mall Association voted with their feet and their pocketbooks to dissolve, and join the Downtown Alliance.

The raison d'etre of a business improvement district is to enhance the environment so business can prosper and grow. The 50,000 jobs that have been created since we've started -- many in businesses new to the city -- is a good indication that we are fulfilling our mission.

Carl Weisbrod

President, Alliance for Downtown New York

To the Editor:

Mr. Adler states that our sanitation workers are oppressed. If he had done his homework, he would have known that each member of our regular sanitation crew is a member of Teamsters Local 210, with health insurance, maternity, paternity, legal and scholarship benefits, paid vacation; paid personal days and paid sick leave. Our average salary is over 25 percent higher than you reported. While it is true that people participating in the city's Work Experience Program are assigned to our BID, over half of our regular sanitation crew are former WEP personnel.

E. William Judson

Chairman, Madison Avenue Business Improvement District

To the Editor:

The writer's real gripe seems to be the conversion of commercial space to residential apartments. This is not a BID function; this is a decision of individual property owners.

The author says "merchants complained to the mayor that they became aware of the existence of the BID only when they received their first assessment bill." But the process to create a BID is lengthy, with certified mailings, meetings, surveys, discussions, public notices and hearings. Anyone who claims they were not aware of the formation of a BID in their area had to work hard to avoid knowing.

BID's do not provide services that city agencies such as the Department of Sanitation or the Police Department are paid by city taxes to provide. BlD's provide supplemental services beyond those provided by the city. I believe the greatest strength of a BID is that it is an advocate for the community. The BID maintains an ongoing dialogue with local agencies to make certain that all city, state and federal services that our taxes pay for are provided. BID's support local athletic events and youth programs, they support transportation improvements, they assist local shoppers by promoting special sale events and by advocating on behalf of consumers.

There are some BlD's that are better than others, but I know that my neighborhood is much better today now that we have a BID.

Tony Giordano

Sunset Park, Brooklyn

The writer was involved as a volunteer in the creation of the Sunset Park BID four years ago.

To the Editor:

As president of the HUB Third Avenue BID in the South Bronx, I see Mr. Adler's essay as narrow-minded. Here businesses struggle to survive, sometimes in the wake of crime and buried in a barrage of sanitation violations. Most business owners cannot afford advertising or private security or a continuous watchful eye on their litter-strewn sidewalks. That is our function. We benefit small and large merchants alike by having private street cleaners and private security to supplement the New York Police Department's excellent policing of the entire neighborhood. Don't just study your research on your computer; spend some time in one of our needier BlD's.

Steven Fish

South Bronx

Organizations mentioned in this article:

Related Terms:
Economic Conditions and Trends; Business Improvement Districts

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