JACKSON HEIGHTS — A local civic and immigrant group that withdrew its support of a proposed business improvement district last summer has reconsidered after an agreement was reached to allow more community input.
Members of Make the Road New York denounced the Jackson Heights-Corona BID in July at a town hall meeting, saying they have concerns about the BID's structure.
But they changed their mind after Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras and the 82nd Street Partnership negotiated a community agreement that makes "unprecedented changes" to the structure of the BID to offer proper representation of the community.
"This first of its kind agreement will guarantee increased representation from a variety of stakeholders along Roosevelt Avenue and ensure that those stakeholders have real power and input in the Board of Directors of the proposed BID," according to a statement from Ferreras' office.
Under the new agreement, the partnership's 25-member board will have a minimum of eight commercial and residential tenants, and the board must have someone representing street vendors, a representative from the LGBTQ community and a youth board member.
The current structure of the BID only requires property owners to be on the board.
To further strengthen the local voice, any decisions made by the BID — including financial decisions like raising assessments for those in the district and any purchases — would have to pass with the approval of 18 members, members said.
Fausto Rodriguez — a business owner and Make the Road member who said in July he couldn't support the current BID proposal — said the agreement lets him "be sure that the BID will reflect the needs of all of our community members and work to support our existing immigrant entrepreneurs that make Roosevelt Ave great."
The BID's director, Leslie Ramos, said the agreement is a "win" for the community.
"This is just making it very clear that we're all willing to be on on the same table, and all willing to discuss the issues that effect the community," she said.
Those still against the BID, though, said the process remains "undemocratic."
Tania Mattos and other members of Queens Neighborhoods United delivered petitions with 200 signatures speaking out against the plans to City Hall last week — and said those community voices are not being heard.
"As QNU we maintain our stance that BIDs are not beneficial to communities, because their focus is on superficial solutions (which the city should be taking care of), rather than larger issues like the constant threat of affordable rent in a gentrifying city," she said in a statement.