Forum Committee Responds to Business District Concerns | Letters to the Editor
Thank you for the Inquirer’s coverage of the Scarsdale Forum Town Center Revitalization and Municipal Services Committees March 20, 2022 report on whether the Scarsdale Village Center should become an improvement district of Business (a BID) (“Scarsdale forum explores options for village center,” March 25). The recommendation of the Scarsdale Forum report is that the possibility of a BID should be explored by establishing a steering committee, made up of stakeholders from village government (elected and staff), landowners, traders, civic organizations , neighborhood associations and downtown condo/co-op owners. The nature of the steering committee is exploratory: to see if this type of entity makes sense for Scarsdale.
Some asked why the village did not do everything itself. As we know from the last round of budget discussions, there are not enough funds available for all projects of interest. Due to budget limitations, many improvements, such as upkeep of downtown plants and parks, infrastructure repairs, and improved lighting and power grids, have not been maintained. Traders struggle to make ends meet during tough economic cycle worsened by global pandemic; thus, the Scarsdale Business Alliance cannot be sought for funding for these projects. Creative solutions should be explored. A steering committee could determine the projects likely to be financed by an DIS.
Some have questioned whether a small village like Scarsdale (population approximately 17,800) is suitable for a BID.
As noted in the Forum’s BID report, this type of entity is now popular in every state in the country, as well as in other countries. New York City has 76 BIDs, some spanning only a few city blocks.
But more specifically, there are BIDs in many small towns on Long Island – for example, Westbury (population 15,300), Cedarhurst (population 6,600), Port Washington (population 15,800), and Greenport Village (population 2,200), as well as BIDs in other smaller New York communities such as Canandaigua (population 10,000), Glens Falls (population 14,000) and Batavia (population 14,000) – all smaller than Scarsdale. The websites of these BIDs demonstrate that they have made a big difference in the communities they serve.
Some have expressed concern that a single entity or organization has control over the BID and what happens in the center of our village. However, to clarify another fact, New York law (Sec. 980-M) specifies that no voting member of an IDB’s board of directors can control more than 33 1/3% of the votes. In addition, the BID would be subject to village codes and ordinances.
Whether the community decides to go ahead with a BID will be known after further study, but to categorically exclude this proven and widespread tool for revitalizing the downtown core would be short-sighted.
Chair, Scarsdale Forum Downtown Revitalization Committee