‘We don’t take volunteers, we offer paid jobs’: Park Slope’s Fifth Ave BID fundraises for Open Streets

5th avenue parek slope open streets staff on the street
Fifth Avenue Park Slope Open Streets staff on the street.
File photo

Park Slope can already see the light at the end of this winter, and plans for the fourth season of Open Streets at the neighborhood’s stretch of Fifth Avenue are in motion. 

Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), a non profit that supports local businesses through event organization and community building, is fundraising so the program can cover their payroll and acquire barricades, signage, insurance, radios, cover taxes and safety items. 

During the last four years, through spring, summer and fall the association has turned the corridor into a path for pedestrians that local businesses can take advantage of by putting out extra outdoor sitting areas one day per week, through five months.

The streets becomes a space for events and a stage for performances across the 16 blocks. The program includes outdoor movies, music, performances like dance, a magician and some fitness classes.

Artichoke Dance Company dancers on Open Streets 2022
Artichoke Dance Company dancers performing at Open Streets 2022. #theother5th. Courtesy of Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID.

The program Operating Open Streets requires people to open and close the blocks to traffic, manage emergencies, support small businesses and keep attendees safe. BID started a fundraising on Mar. 1st, and on it’s first weekend, it raised 10% of its $40,000 goal. 

“We will reach our goal. We’ll go out there and we’ll talk to people and we think they will help us get the word out,” said Joanna Tallantire, executive director of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue BID. “Our problem is we start the program in May, so we need to start paying staff and training them and getting the equipment that we need to start the program.”

According to Tallantire, the amount we are trying to raise covers 50 to 70% of the program. The rest comes from city grants through the city’s Department of Trasportation Open Streets program. But the non profit wont get that money until the end of June, well into the season.

The organization maintains their staff in addition to recruiting new members every year. This year’s program will count with the participation of many new restaurants. 

“The donations will continue to come throughout the program,” Tallantire said reassured. “There’s never a negative aspect to this. It’s a win-win for everyone.”