When the Business Improvement District was put into place in November 2008, the idea was to have a centralized entity to support and promote the area’s businesses. It is stated that the intent of the Business Improvement District Management Corporation is on “improving Tenafly’s economic viability by supporting existing businesses and encouraging the establishment of new enterprises and cultural activities that complement existing businesses and services in different sections throughout the town.”
After months of disagreeing and stagnation, the Board of Trustees for the group has voted to dissolve itself. With funds and questions still lingering, there will be two meetings to discuss where the funds will go.
The Borough Council will host meetings on both Tuesday the 8th and the 15th to look at the options for the $95,000 in collected tax moneys from local Tenafly businesses. This money was originally earmarked for support and advertisement of local businesses, along with common area improvements.
But since the beginning, the group has struggled to find its purpose and failed in its mission to improve the business district. Many members and stakeholders, the landlords and merchants that paid into the fund, were skeptical early on when the leadership failed to pan out. And with the imminent dissolution on December 31st, there are many asking what is going to happen to their money.
It is known, due to local ordinances, that the funds collected are “prohibited from being used on other projects besides the Tenafly business district.” So, how will the funds be used or allocated back? That is what the two meetings will discuss. Several suggestions have been made to date from the BID members and the council:
1. Give the money back to the businesses that paid into it.
2. Use it on a project to benefit the downtown area.
3. Hold it in a trust for the Chamber of Commerce to use.
These and other ideas need to be vetted and voted upon before the end of the year when the group will no longer be in existence. This may also prove difficult, as the members have had a difficult time agreeing on things from the beginning, leading to the lack of internal and community support.
Tenafly Mayor, Peter Rustin, said that the main reason for the failure was that moneys were collected “with no real plan in place of how to spend the money.” This is the downfall of many civic and corporate groups, and unfortunately after months of frustration and the inability to move forward the group will be coming to an end. With a population of 15,000 residents and growing, the Mayor is hopeful and in support of additional help for local businesses and wants to make sure that the community has an outlet for assistance. He concluded saying that, “I will try to put another kind of group together that would look at the issues facing our downtown.”
Councilman Mark Zinna suggests that a committee be put in place to encourage the best use of real estate in Tenafly rather than marketing of the stores.
It is clear that the leadership of Tenafly is committed to helping the community grow and thrive, while addressing downtown needs and growth opportunities. Could that $95,000 in already collected tax money assist in attracting more small business owners that would also live within the community? Are there opportunities to grow more than just the business community being left on the table?