Volume 78 - Number 36 / February 4 - 10 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Mark Miller, president of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District, right, presented Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver with an award of appreciation at last weeks BID annual meeting.
Silver says L.E.S. business still hurting from 9/11
By Albert Amateau
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver assured members of the Lower East Side Business Improvement District last week of his commitment to help small businesses of the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Little Italy weather the current recession.
Silver, a lifelong Lower East Side resident, was the keynote speaker at the 16th annual meeting of the Lower East Side BID on Jan. 29.
Make no mistake, this is a recession the likes of which Ive never seen in my life, Silver said, noting that the latest Wall St. crash struck while the area was still trying to recover from the World Trade Center attack.
People who used to walk from their jobs in the Financial District to Chinatown and Orchard St. and patronized the stores during their lunchtimes were driven out by the Sept. 11 attack, Silver said. Those customers are not back yet.
He insisted that the city and the state must honor their commitment to rebuild the district even though mistakes have been made. The task, he added, is not simple.
There is nothing you can learn from the Wharton School of Business about how to deal with a massive terrorist attack, he remarked.
Silver dismissed the idea that government should take a hands-off role in the current recession and let the weak fail and the strong survive.
Thats O.K. for the classroom but its not real life, he said. Government must provide resources to get the economic engine moving.
Nevertheless, he acknowledged that state and local governments have limited options.
We will have to do more with less. We really have no alternative, he said.
To survive, Lower East Side merchants need to make our community the place for customers to get the biggest bang for the buck, Silver said.
He said that small businesses create the most jobs and are an important part of the districts quality of life.
Ive lived here my entire life, he said. I never wore an article of clothing that didnt come from this district until I was 40. I think this is the greatest place to live and raise children, and I hope that 50 years from now, there will still be Silvers in the neighborhood. I believe we can overcome our difficulties, he said.
Silver, who was instrumental in securing the first New York State grant to the Lower East Side BID in 1992, also provided the funding for the BIDs Green Machine street-cleaning vehicle and for the current Go East marketing campaign.
He has been the champion of the neighborhood, said Roberto Ragone, the BIDs executive director.
State Senator Daniel Squadron also attended the meeting and remarked that his first date with his fiancée was at the BIDs Pickle Day.
Mark Miller, president of the BID, reported on improvements in the district last year. A new program awards up to $425 to BID merchants who install security-camera systems providing street surveillance outside their buildings. Property owners with corner or through lots may be awarded an extra $250 for installing cameras at additional entrances or exits.
As a counterpart to the BIDs seventh annual Pickle Day in September of last year, the BID held its inaugural New York City Apple Day in October.