A group of Coney Islanders looking to aid the neighborhood’s business community got a big boost, as the city’s Department of Small Business Services awarded a grant to their efforts to form a Business Improvement District (BID).
The supplemental funding for the Alliance for Coney Island will help with the planning, staffing and eventual implementation of a support agency along the peninsula’s busiest block.
BID’s are created to improve public safety within a specific geographic area while building up the neighborhood with marketed events, business development and beautification projects, said Daniel Murphy, executive director for the Alliance.
“The formation of a Business Improvement District in Coney Island will build upon and formalize the Alliance’s commitment to revitalize and empower the community, focusing on its main commercial corridors as it continues its recovery from the economic impacts Superstorm Sandy and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Murphy said in a statement.
The money will come from the SBS BID Formation Grant Program, and was awarded to the Alliance after they were able to demonstrate services that a prospective Coney Island BID could routinely provide, such as:
- Additional sanitation services for Mermaid Avenue and the Amusement District
- A renovation project that cleaned and mulched 257 tree pits along both corridors
- A branded Coney Island for Everyone Do Not Litter sign
- New trees, plants and mulch for 22 planters
- The installation of LED exterior lighting at 71 locations to brighten the sidewalks
“Sweeping the streets, assuring that the streets are well lit, clean and safe, promoting the district for folks who are visiting,” Murphy told Brooklyn Paper. “All of these things that are meant to improve the quality of life within a commercial corridor, to improve the safety, to improve the retail options that the local residents have.”
He says finding funding and communicating with the local community can be the toughest, most tedious tasks when forming a BID since it must meet specific criteria and be approved by commercial tenants and residents before being officially installed.
“Business Improvement Districts are never simple processes. There’s always a community process to it,” he said.
The Alliance formed a BID Formation Steering Committee made up of community leaders in Coney Island to gauge what services and businesses would benefit the area.
Sam Moore, executive director for the YMCA, says he joined the steering committee because many residents who live on the west end often use the train stations near Mermaid Avenue to travel.
According to Moore these stations are often inundated with trash, animal feces and other public safety eyesores.
“Most of the stores try to do their best to maintain in front of their location but those other locations or those who may not have the capacity to do it, need help,” Moore said. “That was my main purpose for wanting to be involved on the steering committee and to see if there was an opportunity if the store owners and those property owners were interested in [a BID].”
Rapper and online personality NEMS, the owner of a merchandise store at 1612 Mermaid Ave., says he welcomes certain BID benefits.
“They just installed lights above all the stores on my block. I don’t think it’s too necessary but I’m not mad at it. We definitely need the streets cleaned on a regular basis. If it’s not gonna cost the business owners anything then why not,” he told Brooklyn Paper.
After a year of formation efforts, Murphy and the rest of the pro-BID team have finalized a general area and anticipate it will cost $1 million to get it off the ground plus additional funds to maintain.
The team is now preparing for the ballot process where the nearby stakeholders will vote either for or against the BID.
“We just thought it was high time the Alliance went forward with creating a BID for Coney Island because there is a need and demand for this,” Murphy said.