JACKSON HEIGHTS — The push to expand a local business improvement district lost a major ally after a local non-profit and advocacy group dropped its support of the proposal.
Members of Make The Road New York, which has an office on Roosevelt Avenue and 92nd Street, denounced the plan at a rowdy public hearing about the Jackson Heights/Corona BID at Sabor Latino in Elmhurst on Thursday.
The meeting, which was filled overwhelmingly the BID's opponents, was the second of two meetings held that day to present the plan.
It's the first time the organization has publicly spoken against the plan, which will expand the BID from 82nd Street to 104th Street and Roosevelt Avenue and will also include Junction Boulevard up to 35th Avenue.
"We have a lot of the same concerns that are moving people to support the BID, we just don't think the BID as it's currently set up and proposed is going to support and help our members," said Daniel Coates, a lead organizer for Make The Road and a member of the steering committee for the BID.
Business owner and Make the Road member Fausto Rodriguez, 52, spoke at the meeting Thursday and said he was concerned about the structure of the organization.
"As a small business owner I am concerned about being displaced, about being displaced by rising commercial rents," he said.
He later said in a statement that he was "concerned about the impact the BID would have on our community and cannot support it as it is currently proposed."
"However, we are eager to continue to engage with all partners in our neighborhood to address our common concerns for Roosevelt Avenue and find solutions that we can all get behind," he said.
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The BID, if approved, will fund events, small business assistance and street cleanup, and will be paid for by business owners and landlords who will pay a yearly fee determined by a special assessment.
Mauricio Norona, 33, an attorney and member of the steering committee who also hosted Thursday evening's meeting, said he believes in the BID's mission but said he understands the concerns of those who are against it.
"Many of these concerns are legitimate and they can be addressed," he said.
"I think the vision and particular way of developing this plan may benefit from incorporating more voices. The [82nd Street Partnership] is pretty open to that."
Statements of support to more than 1,000 landlords, business owners and residents went out late last month and will be tallied within the next few months, according to the Small Business Services.
A spokeswoman for SBS, Merideth Weber, said that each BID formation is "reviewed on a case by case basis" by the SBS, which analyzes support and outreach efforts.
"According to the law, there is no specific support threshold that every BID formation effort needs to reach," she said.
"SBS’s review goes above and beyond the requirements set forth in BID law, which only take into account formal declarations of opposition filed during the public approval process."
In May, 82nd Street Partnership director Seth Taylor, who is spearheading the expansion, said members of Community Board 3 volunteered to count the ballots.
Taylor said Friday he was happy that the meetings gave locals a chance to discuss major issues for Roosevelt Avenue.
"We are proud of the fact that we are facilitating this community conversation and we are giving people an opportunity to voice their concerns about the future of the neighborhood," he said.