Focus on Bay Ridge: In ‘darkest of times,’ we will not stop planning for brighter, better future

Business, civic leaders meeting regularly online see increased importance of BID

“We must do what each of us needs to do to protect our families and ourselves, but at the same time — wherever possible — we must plan for the day when our lives go back to normal,” said attorney Bob Howe, president of the Merchants of Third Avenue. “Though we may shelter in place, we will not cower in place.”

“As a business-civic group serving hundreds of businesses and the broader Bay Ridge community, we are using the tools of the internet to plan the best way to keep spirits up and success within our sights, no matter how distant it may seem at times,” Howe added.

Toward this end, Howe and leaders such as Sheila Brody of the Green Spa & Wellness Center, Edward Jones Financial Advisor Patrick Gilbride, Jeanine Conden of Charmed, restaurateur John Keegan and insurance executive Dan Texeira are holding regular meetings to continue to formulate or sustain a Business Improvement District for Third Avenue.

Praise for first responders, health care workers

Noting that the 26th Pioneer Reception set for the Bay Ridge Manor on March 16 was canceled, Pioneer Committee Co-Chair Lori Pedone told us, “We had a great group of Pioneers assembled for the March reception. We’re hoping our next reception will also focus on recognizing our first responders, medical and emergency personnel and those who keep our streets and homes safe and clean — nurses, doctors and those who are going to work everyday in medical offices.”

Also receiving steady praise from both Howe and Pedone are “the incredible staff of Community Board 10, led by Josephine Beckmann, who are all receiving true cooperation from our elected officials: Councilmember Justin Brannan, state Sen. Andrew Gounardes, U.S. Rep. Max Rose and Assemblymembers Nicole Malliotakis and Mathylde Frontus.

BID to ensure continuation of Bay Ridge traditions

Each step of the way their efforts are bolstered by the legendary and affable Chip Cafiero, known as the “Festival Guy,” who actually plays a leading role in just about every positive community effort through all of Bay Ridge.

“The BID is our way of keeping all of our really good events — festivals, Summer Strolls, etc. — going,” Cafiero said. “It’s a way of knowing we have a future, and what could be more important than planning for a future in which we will enjoy and support each other?”

summer stroll bay ridge

“Equally important, we want leaders of our cherished Ragamuffin Parade and those who stage the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and other community-oriented events to know that we’ll be ready and willing to host them at the earliest appropriate time,” Howe added. “We’ve already held scores of meetings with store and property owners. Surprisngly, the internet is a very smooth and efficient way to carry out a number of smaller agendas on the way to our bigger goal.”

Using tools like Zoom and GoToMeeting, the BID Committee continues to meet regularly and, according to one business owner, “In these darkest of times the sense of unity and purpose which brings us together to plan for a Business Improvement District also makes us very much aware of the importance of working together for the greater good of the avenue and our entire Bay Ridge community.”

BID would equip all members with daily marketing tools

“Under a streamlined BID, we’ll be able to meet unforeseen challenges better because we’ll have all kinds of different options and be equipped to apply for and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants the city is awarding existing BIDs,” the business owner said.

In this regard, it should be noted that the Fifth Avenue BID received grants exceeding $250,000 last year to improve their networking and marketing capacities. The 86th Street BID has also received substantial funding through channels available only to established Business Improvement Districts.

With proper funding, BIDs offer sophisticated internet marketing, which enables each member to post each morning whatever specials they have on offer, or just to say hello to the thousand or more stores and individuals who share their special site.

“You won’t have to be an internet whiz to enjoy and profit from a modern Third Avenue BID community site,” a Steering Committee member told us. “With a BID, everyone involved will have daily support from veterans in marketing and pure social messaging.”

Howe added, “One of our main goals right now is to keep the lines of communication open so we’ll be ready to go full speed with popular programs like our Friday night Summer Stroll on 3rd, our Third Avenue Festival and our Pioneers Reception, through which we reach out to the entire community to spotlight those who go out of their way to bolster solid community causes.”

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