By: John J. Roe III, Patchogue Village BID President
In 1989, New York enacted Article 19-A of the General Municipal Law which allowed municipalities to form Business Improvement Districts. At that time, the economy was at a low and there were many vacancies in Patchogue. In early 1990, Jerry Sadofsky, the Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, suggested that a business improvement district would be a good thing for Patchogue.
Basically, a business improvement district allows owners and tenants of buildings in the proposed district to impose a tax upon themselves which would allow funds to be raised and set aside for the improvement of the area encompassing the business district. A fairly large group of business owners and property owners was formed to investigate whether and how such a district could be created and how it should operate.
At that time, the Village had a sewer district in the center of the village and it was determined that this area would be appropriate. A consulting firm was hired to identify the various parcels that would fall in the sewer district and which tenants were in this area. After a two year study, public hearings, consideration of a proposed budget, a formal vote of the owners and tenants of properties in the proposed district, and after the Village Board of Trustees approved the original plan for the creation of the district, a corporation was formed. The Certificate of Incorporation for “Village of Patchogue Business Improvement Management Association, Inc.” was filed on December 10, 1992. The New York State Comptroller approved the BID and it sprung into action.
Under the law, there are three appointees to the BID Board. One Director is nominated by the Mayor, one is nominated by the Board of Trustees and one is nominated by the Village Treasurer. One Director must be a residential tenant in the district, three must be commercial tenants, and four must be owners of commercial properties. Thus there must be a minimum of eleven Directors with the various sectors of the economy being represented on the BID Board.
There are financial limits on the “tax” that can be imposed by the BID Board on the commercial properties in the district. Residential properties (defined as one or two family dwellings) and other exempt properties (for example, properties owned by religious organizations and municipally owned properties like schools) are excluded from taxation by the BID. Also, the BID budget cannot exceed twenty percent of the Village taxes on properties in the district. For any capital improvements bonded by the BID, the limit for the BID is ten percent of the Village capital budget and these cannot exceed seven percent of the “full value” of properties located in the district. Over the years, the BID budgets have been quite reasonable. Most recently, the 2015-2016 BID budget (which must be approved by the Board of Trustees as a part of the overall Village budget) is $157,360.00.
The BID asked the Village to provide a Code Enforcement department which took over from a group of uniformed security personnel paid by a variety of individuals and by the Chamber of Commerce. The Village Code Enforcement is now a fixture in the village. The BID paid for new sidewalks in downtown Patchogue, planted trees, and installed brick pavers and period lighting along Main Street. It funded benches and pedestrian amenities, arranged for trash receptacles and flower pots, funded installation of hanging flower baskets, helped pay for and install holiday decorations, American flags and banners.
After many years, the Village Board approved the expansion of the BID District to the entire village boundaries. This allowed the BID to encompass the Patchogue River and all of the businesses and multi-family residential properties along the river and in the remaining areas of the village in the expanded BID district. As a result, the BID funded the cost of dredging the Patchogue River to allow better use for the river. Projects and events along the river have been funded by the BID including the Santa Boat Parade and other festivities sponsored by the riverfront restaurants and businesses. Now the Waverly Avenue and western part of the Village have seen improvements including the maintenance of the traffic circle and it plantings, trash receptacles and flower pots are in place and festivals have been planned to create awareness of the businesses and amenities in that area.
Through the efforts of the current Executive Director of the BID, Dennis Smith, the BID was awarded a series of grants that would allow public-private partnerships with various property owners in the core business district to improve the facades of many buildings along Main Street and North Ocean Avenue and South Ocean Avenue. As a result it is estimated that the various grants resulted in more than $3 Million dollars of improvements to buildings in the downtown area. While additional applications for grants have been made, there have been no recent approvals.
Your current correspondent served as President of the BID for the first ten years of its existence and has served a second term as president during the most recent four years. Frankly speaking, the members of the BID Board have overseen, with the generous support of the Village Mayor and Board of Trustees, the transformation of Patchogue form a community in distress to a community which has become a role model for communities on Long Island, in New York, and even from a group of communities in Australia.
Recently the Village, the Chamber of Commerce, and the BID have held meetings to consider what is happening in Patchogue and how each of the groups can continue the progress that Patchogue has made. With the advent of a new century and the internet and all that it offers, Patchogue has risen to meet the challenges of today and plan for those of the tomorrows to follow.
Kudos are due to those persons comprising the BID Board of Directors and the Mayors and other officials of the Village of Patchogue over the past quarter century whose tireless dedication to the future of their hometown and the vision of what Patchogue can be. Residents and business owners and residential and commercial owners calling Patchogue “home” are the quiet beneficiaries of all of this. I am personally grateful to all for the opportunities that have come my way in this time.
Now it is on to the next quarter century.