Woodside businesses considering new BID program


| aaltman@queenscourier.com |



Woodside businesses are eyeing a new, lighter Business Improvement District (BID) program.

The simplified version, called BID express, focuses on maintenance and sanitation, reducing costs for its members by centralizing management. While a traditional BID largely emphasizes administration costs and assists with marketing efforts, the downsized version appeals to smaller districts with a more localized mentality.

“We think this is a great tool for areas that want BID services but can’t afford the traditional model,” said Department of Small Business Services (SBS) spokesperson Kris Goddard.

The program, first introduced on June 21, is available citywide. According to Goddard, roughly 15 different neighborhoods across the five boroughs have expressed interest, including Woodside.

Joe Conley, chair of Community Board 2 and founder of both the Long Island City and Sunnyside BIDs, first initiated the Woodside BID a year ago. Currently in the process of educating local businesses about the positives to joining, Conley said the most important step in establishing a BID is identifying the needs of local businesses. In Woodside, businesses’ main concerns were advertising, security and maintenance.

The average BID fee for a storefront under the innovative program is between $200 and $400 annually. Dues go towards hiring private contractors to take care of basic chores, such as cleaning sidewalks and painting over graffiti. According to Conley, both the LIC and Sunnyside BIDs as well as the SBS will be assisting with the development of the Woodside program.

“We’re trying to enhance the neighborhood and give them a voice,” said Conley. “They have someone advocating for them on a full time basis.”

According to Conley, 15 Woodside businesses have reached out in interest in joining the BID.

“I think its well worth it,” said Frank Ottomanelli, owner of Ottomanelli and Sons, a family-run meat shop in Woodside. “I hope that it does work. I don’t think it can hurt.”

Some business owners, excited for the BID program to hit their block, believe it will increase foot traffic, particularly among commuters.

“Anything that improves an area is going to help it,” said Sean Sullivan, a manager at Sean Og’s Tavern. “Woodside is an important area because it has the No. 7 train and the Long Island Rail Road. We decided to get involved because we thought it would be good for the area. Right now, business is steady, but the BID may attract more people.”

According to Conley, after public hearings and meetings with city council, the Woodside BID will be instated some time in 2013.

— Additional reporting by Adrienne Kurtz