A better BID process

Since its inception in 1992, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District has been a boon to businesses on and around Orchard and Allen Sts., by keeping the streets clean and drawing in crowds of patrons through creative promotional efforts.

The BID’s DayLife events, which began in June and will continue this Sun., Sept. 30, have been successful in filling a three-block stretch of Orchard St. with food and clothing vendors, high-profile DJs, games and, most importantly, foot traffic for small businesses. The BID has also hosted its much-loved annual Pickle Day event for the past decade, which celebrates the rich history of pickle vendors on the Lower East Side.

The BID will soon seek the city’s approval for an expansion proposal that would triple its size. The planned expansion would stretch its boundaries west to Bowery, east to Clinton St. and south to East Broadway, covering a total of around 1,200 properties.

We think the BID, under the leadership of Executive Director Bob Zuckerman, has done an excellent job of reaching out to small businesses, residents and community leaders over the past several years in order to build a solid base of support for the expansion. And it’s certainly paid off, as Zuckerman recently told us that, of the property owners and tenants who have replied to the BID’s ongoing ballot survey, more than 99 percent have voted “Yes” to the expansion.

When Zuckerman sends out that proposal to the Department of Small Business Services in October — beginning the long process that, if greenlighted, would eventually end in the hands of the City Council — the city should take that diligence into account, along with all the great work the BID has already done to help businesses on the Lower East Side.

Onboard with Lowline

New York City has been home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge developments in urban planning. James Ramsey and Dan Barasch, the two bright minds behind the Lowline project — which seeks to construct the world’s first underground park in a former M.T.A. trolley terminal beneath Delancey and Essex Sts. — are now continuing that tradition of creativity.

We think the Lowline is a great idea, and one that the city should actively support, for several reasons.

First, it would incorporate groundbreaking solar-power technology in order to sustain a uniquely attractive park in a city that could always use a few more green spaces. A stunning sample of that “remote skylight” design was recently on display at the Lowline’s public exhibit on Essex St., and it drew plenty of well-deserved nods of approval from community members.

Second, the world’s first underground park would provide an innovative setting in which Lower East Side businesses and arts organizations could spread their wings and engage consumers in exciting new ways.

And finally, the Lowline would be a complement to the upcoming SPURA development in that area. The park could provide a valuable public space to go alongside the new residential and commercial properties that will rise, giving local families as well as workers and tourists a great place to relax.

Barasch and Ramsey have a long way to go, as they try to raise millions of dollars and drum up political support for a project that will take years to complete if the city O.K.’s it. But we think they deserve the encouragement needed to push the Lowline forward.

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