BY COUNCILMAN PETER KOO
Downtown Flushing is a highly competitive commercial district and vibrant transportation hub that has gone through rapid change in recent years. We are in the midst of an economic resurgence that has brought new jobs, businesses, residents and infrastructure, and it is essential that we have the right services to handle this influx of people.
Over the years, I have increased the amount of funding my office has allocated to the Downtown Flushing Business Improvement District for this precise reason. All told, between the BID, Department of Sanitation and additional services, my office has allocated nearly $800,000 over the past eight years for sanitation in Council District 20.
In congested urban locations, business improvement districts are the lifeline for small businesses. They provide sanitation and maintenance, public safety, traffic management, beautification, streetscaping, business marketing, and promotional opportunities.
The current boundary of the Flushing BID is centered on the area’s most congested transit hub at Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue – the second busiest pedestrian intersection in New York City. Recently, we announced a proposed expansion to the outlying areas on Union Street, College Point Boulevard and the connecting streets.
Giving these businesses access to the BID’s sanitation and marketing services will provide a valuable boost to their operations and to our community.
With such high pedestrian volume from cars, buses, trains and businesses, trash buildup is inevitable, but by expanding the BID, we can be sure that these useful services reach even more areas of our community.
To support the BID, I recently introduced a bill in the City Council that would require that the city develop a plan for helping businesses and owners in BIDs purchase solar energy systems. In general, customers would be able to obtain better prices for solar installations if they seek installation collectively.
Use of solar power has shown long-term benefits to both the environment and to the bottom line of businesses. As an industry, solar is growing rapidly, so we must be sure that this in-demand technology is obtainable by our mom-and-pop stores.
The ability to obtain a bulk purchasing discount is just another way we as a city can continue to push to incentivize green industries, while at the same time, supporting small business.
In addition to our work to expand the BID, I have worked closely with the city to push for the long-awaited Main Street sidewalk widening. This project is currently underway and is expected to completely reconstruct the roadways on Main Street, and widen the sidewalks by as much as eight feet in some areas.
The ultimate goal of this sidewalk widening is to create a friendlier business district for pedestrians and the businesses who rely on foot traffic. It’s no secret that traffic over the past several months has suffered because of this ongoing construction, but the short term pain will pave the way for a long term gain. We expect to cut the ribbon on our new sidewalks this summer.
Taking care of our business community is of paramount importance. I will continue working to make this a priority of my office in the years to come.
Councilman Peter Koo represent the 20th Council District. His office is at 135-27 38 Ave, Suite 388, in Flushing. Reach his staff at (718) 888-8747.