The will push for sidewalk sales and additional music and arts fairs along Bell Boulevard as part of an initiative to draw more attention to the commercial hub, the group’s chairman said.
The BID, which held its annual election Monday night, is made up of landlords, commercial and residential tenants as well as Councilman Dan Halloran, R-Whitestone, city Comptroller John Liu and representatives from Community Board 11 and the Queens Borough President’s Office.
“We are one of the lowest assessed BIDs in the city – I think we’re in the lowest five,” Chairman James Riso said during the meeting at Bayside’s Redeemer Lutheran Church. “I think we can get a lot done more now. Before, it was all about being able to keep on the lights on Bell Boulevard. Now, we hope to do more exciting things.”
Riso said the BID’s current budget is assessed at $131,368 and that expenses include sanitation, marketing and promotion, administration and other costs.
Lyle Sclair, the BID’s executive director, said the group’s primary objective during the past year was beautifying Bell Boulevard.
“We need to take a little more focus on 40th Avenue near the heart of Bell,” he said. “Too often, it is viewed as the place people go to eat and drink. But we have lawyers, doctors and real estate agents. In addition to bars, there are spas, fitness and dance studios. And you can plan your entire wedding on Bell. There are not too many places in New York City where you can do that.”
Upcoming projects for the BID include “roll up the gates” events during which available properties will be advertised and small business assistance, Sclair said.
Events will include sidewalk sales, bi-annual arts festivals, music festivals that will coordinate with local bars and eateries and medical office open houses.
“This BID has started taking off and is doing things other BIDs would be jealous of,” Halloran told the group’s members. “I’m somebody who owned a business on Bell Boulevard, so I’m glad to see things are still happening here.”
Liu dropped by the meeting to discuss tax breaks for small businesses.
“We’ve been through a very difficult period in New York,” he said. “In this city, we have an economic dilemma that is more pronounced than in the rest of the country. The well-to-do are doing better, while everyone else is slipping behind or staying in place. A widening wealth gap is counterproductive and it stifles the economy. We’ve seen hundreds of millions of dollars go to large corporations in tax breaks, while small mom and pop shops don’t get any breaks. And you could argue that these smaller companies face the burden of ticket blitzes, fines and violations that amount to hidden taxes.”
Liu said his office is proposing that the city’s top one percent – or, those who earn $500,000 or more per year – should pay slightly higher taxes, which he said would reduce the threshold for 99 percent of taxpayers and generate as much as $900 million in revenue.
Liu said he believed Bayside’s BID was a good example of a successful private-public partnership.
“The work this BID does is vital to upholding the integrity of the community, but also acting as an economic engine for the city,” he said. “I’ve seen more businesses opening in Bayside and, on the weekends, it’s difficult to get a table at restaurants.”