Residents, merchants come together at 13th Avenue BID planning meetings

Dyker Heights’ 13th Avenue was the topic of discussion at two formal meetings hosted by the 13th Avenue Merchants Association on Saturday, March 21 and Monday, March 23 to answer questions about the importance of forming a 13th Avenue Business Improvement District (BID).

The merchants association, aided by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, is poised to begin the process by which the BID — which will run from 65th Street to 86th Street, and encompass more than 200 businesses – will be formed, as long as the move receives approval from the community.

“I have one priority for 2015 and it’s very simple,” said Chamber President and CEO Carlo Scissura. “That’s to get the BID done on 13th Avenue.”

A movement that started with a low number of ballots, Scissura – a Dyker Heights resident himself – said, has gained enough traction to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“We are very committed to this on a borough-wide level,” he said. “This is a critical opportunity to keep 13th Avenue a really thriving mom and pop strip, clean, safe, graffiti-free, with good stores, community.”

“Everybody has to have a voice,” urged merchants association President Dominick Sarta, stressing that, with all local elected officials and organizations on board, “the time is now.”

The steering committee, at both meetings, urged residents, business owners and property owners to submit their ballots, if they hadn’t already.

“My office and I are totally behind this,” said Assemblymember Alec Brook-Krasny, a former small business owner who has worked with the Brighton Beach BID in the past. “When you’re in good company, it’s easier to do a lot of things.”

Sara Steinweiss, director of operations and special events for the Federation of Italian American Organizations, stressed the importance of a BID when it comes to standing out.

“There are more grants that can be given to a BID, and more things that can be done,” said the former aide to Councilmember Vincent Gentile who has seen first-hand the lack of funding merchants associations face. “I think it’s very important to keep alive that tradition of the Brooklyn main street and, in order to do that, we all need to be on board together.”

Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association and Dyker Heights resident herself, contended that, while businesses will benefit, residents might make out with the most.

“It’s important to me that we have a vibrant, active commercial strip,” said Vella-Marrone, stressing that homeowners will benefit directly from an increase in sanitation and security. “That is because the residential community and the commercial strip are interdependent. If we don’t have a good vibrant commercial strip, the residents will suffer and the community will suffer.”

Other panelists included Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, and Antoinette Monaco, 13th Avenue businessowner and local resident.

Community concerns ranged from the added price for residents (which the steering committee assured would be just one dollar) to just where the money was going (Sarta’s answer: sanitation, security, beautification and more).

The first meeting was held in the Saint Bernadette School’s cafeteria, located at 1313 83rd Street and the second, at Ridgewood Savings Bank, 7020 13th Avenue.

For more information or to pick up a ballot, contact Sarta by e-mail at or by fax at 718-232-7702.

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