Opinion: Questions about Roosevelt Avenue BID Met With Silence

(Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

(Photo by Javier Castaño via Queens Latino)

Since Oct. 30 last year we have tried to talk with Leslie Ramos about the expansion of the 82nd Street BID (business improvement district) on Roosevelt Avenue, and we have not received any response. Ramos is the executive director of the 82nd Street BID and responsible for its Roosevelt Avenue expansion. In 2014 Ramos replaced Seth Taylor, who left after not responding to demands and protests by the Queens Latino community.

Some community members are wondering if the BID expansion plan has been scrapped this year due to lack of political interest. The silence is deafening.

During last week, and before press time, we tried to communicate with Ramos and we were met with silence.

Julianne Cho, director of Communications of the city’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS), said on May 3 that if the BID expansion fails it would be “the decision of its directive board… The BID is run by the community and we only offer guidance and resources.”

The BID expansion on Roosevelt Avenue has been the focus of many debates and community meetings since it was proposed by Democratic Council member Julissa Ferreras in June 2013 at P.S. 19. Last January, Queens Latino pointed out that the Steering Committee of the so-called Jackson Heights/Corona BID has not submitted its report to the SBS.

This Steering Committee, composed of 25 volunteer members –13 property owners, four politicians and eight tenants – has not collected the necessary signatures for its approval either, and has not convened town hall meetings, as the law requires.

Those were the questions we sent Ramos last October, which she responded with a single paragraph stating that they keep working for the area’s businesses and “we are not in silence.”

What’s going on with the Roosevelt Avenue BID?

– The process to expand the BID toward Roosevelt Avenue is shrouded in silence. Why?

– Have the merchants and owners signatures been collected? What is the result? Will the process start all over again?

– Are there any planned meetings with the community to explain the BID expansion?

– What community organizations are currently in support of the BID expansion?

– Is there any date fixed for the approval of the Roosevelt Avenue BID?

Some community members and the organization RACA, which is now called Queens Neighborhoods United, have opposed the BID expansion because it would displace small businesses and would dilute the neighbor’s identity in favor of big corporations and gentrification.

Daniel Coates, a former lead organizer for Make The Road who is a member of the Steering Committee for the BID, and currently chief of staff of Council member Ferreras, did not respond to our calls, emails and texts either.

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