City officials are considering two new special improvement districts (SIDs) in South Paterson and 21st Avenue. Business owners from both proposed districts lobbied city council members on Tuesday evening highlighting the potential good that will come from the creation of the new SIDs.
South Paterson Special Improvement District (SPSI)
“I have witnessed a lot of bad things,” said Raed Odeh, well-known barber and owner of the Palestine Hair Salon on Main Street, who is on the South Paterson district study steering committee. “I’ve witnessed people shot on the street. I’ve witnessed people dying from overdose.”
A barber for more than two decades in South Paterson, Odeh has witnessed much ill that can be addressed through a SID, said committee members. The new district comes with a promise to create cleaner and safer streets by taking a small amount of money from every commercial or multi-family property that falls within the SID’s boundaries.
Those boundaries are Main Street from Crooks Avenue to Elizabeth Street; Crooks Avenue from Eagle to Wabash Avenues; Getty Avenue from Crooks Avenue to Delaware Avenue; Getty Avenue from Elizabeth Avenue to Thomas Street; and Madison Avenue from Main Street to Getty Avenue or Route 80 overpass, according to the study.
One and two family homes are excluded from the added assessment, according to the feasibility study that was presented to city officials on Tuesday evening.
“We feel SID is the way to go,” said Amjad Abukwaik, who represents Sheefa Pharmacy and serves as the president of the steering committee. “It’s just another way to improve Paterson.”
21st Avenue Special Improvement District
Andre Sayegh, 6th Ward councilman, said businesses spent almost two years in the feasibility study which was commissioned by the Paterson Restoration Corporation (PRC) in conjunction with business owners in the impacted districts.
Stuart Koperweis, executive vice-president of economic development and revitalization for Roseland-based Millennium Strategies, said the study concluded business districts in both of these commercial corridors will benefit from SIDs.
John Granata, owner of Bay Realty on 21st Avenue, drew a comparison with the Bunker Hill business district, saying a drive through that area feels as if one is not in the Silk City. He said robberies and crimes are an issue in the 21st Avenue area which will be addressed through the district.
Boundaries of the 21st Avenue SID are as follows: 21st Avenue from Straight Street to East 33rd Street including Beckwith Avenue and Lindbergh Place; Market Street from East 29th to East 34th Streets; and first block of Madison Avenue off 21st Avenue.
“This will impact many of the commercial property, but everyone gets the benefits,” said Jaymes DeJesus, store manager for TD Bank on 21st Avenue. Granata said to organize an event on 21st Avenue required door knocking to gather funds and get businesses on board, but the SID will make that process much easier as the district will have its own budget for such things.
The two districts are in their early stages: with the feasibility study complete the next step is to get two ordinances through the city council creating the SIDs. After the districts have been created, the groups have to put together budgets, and present them to the city council for approval.
Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, expressed concern at the inclusion of non-profit organizations. Koperweis agreed to make adjustments so that non-profit groups have the ability to opt-out of being assessed SID fees.
The city has two successful districts, the Bunker Hill and the Downtown Special Improvement District, a third one, the Sandy Hill Special Improvement District, which was approved sometime ago, fell into local political mare’s nest – the third never received a budget approval.
“You can see the SID is becoming a foundation for growth,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman.