Business Improvement District Proposed
By Joseph Wessner
President, Watertown Downtown Business Association
Dear Downtown Business Owners:
You may have heard the news that the Downtown Business Association is working to form a Business Improvement District in Downtown Watertown. This is true, the DBA is working diligently to make this happen.
I wanted to let you know that if you have any questions about a BID or what the DBA is doing, you can contact the DBA through our website, our Facebook page, reply to this email or call us at 315.755.2721. In the meantime I would like to offer some information to help explain what a BID is, what it will do and answer as many questions for you as possible.
After many years of Downtown experiencing stagnation and even decline, recent investments have brought about a revitalization of the area. The Square is growing, new businesses are filling in the empty storefronts, facades are being repaired and many buildings have been restored to their former glory. It is in this atmosphere of growth and interest that the Downtown Business Association has determined to form a Business Improvement District (BID) within the boundaries of what has traditionally been known as Downtown.
A Business Improvement District, or BID, is a legally established, contiguous geographic area within which property and business owners elect to make a collective contribution to initiate, manage, and finance supplemental services for the maintenance, development and promotion of their commercial district.
From the day that Public Square was given to the city to use as a public space, Downtown Watertown has been the cultural, economic and heart of the city. If the North Country is the Front Yard of America, then Watertown is its’ front porch and Downtown is the front porch swing.
Recent history has shown a great deal of investment into downtown. About $100 million has already been invested in infrastructure, reconstruction and other improvements in Downtown. And there is more to come. The State’s DRI initiative, the City’s comprehensive Plan, completion of the Streetscape projects, and a long list of new businesses and property owners have all contributed to the excitement and interest in Downtown.
It seems good, in this atmosphere, that an effort be undertaken to manage and direct this new spirit to help grow revitalization beyond just the Public Square to all of the Downtown and to continue that growth into the future. In order for this effort to be sustainable for the long term, it is important that the effort be sanctioned by the Stakeholders, approved by the City, and reliably and consistently funded.
It is to this end, that we are calling on you to deliberate and consider the formation of a Business Improvement District. As a property owner, it falls to you to approve this idea.
I propose, in a series of papers, to discuss the details of our proposal in order to give a satisfactory answer to any questions that may occur.
These details will include; the boundaries of the District, the services that the BID will provide, the budget for the BID and the investment required to sustain the services.
It will be useful to begin this discussion by examining, the history of the Business Improvement ideal, the successes of other BIDs worldwide and the advantages of a BID within a district This will be the subject of my next letter.