After a flurry of recent snow storms, businesses in Newark’s North Ward were nearly inaccessible as mountains of snow blocked parking spaces and bus stops.
At a time when many of the businesses along Bloomfield Avenue, Mount Prospect Avenue and Lower Broadweay are struggling as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the snow piles added insult to injury.
But rather than waiting for the spring thaw, the mounds of snow were removed over the course of three nights, thanks to the Mount Prospect Partnership and the Bloomfield Avenue – Lower Broadway Alliance.
Both organizations are business improvement districts (BIDs) – entities that are funded by an assessment on businesses and property owners in a designated area.
“Responsiveness and flexibility is essential; our instinct is to identify the most important needs of our stakeholders, budget the appropriate resources, and implement programming that is aligned with those priorities, “ said Chris Bernardo, administrator for the two districts.
Along with activities like snow removal, both BIDs focus on major quality-of-life activities, including, supplemental sanitation and policing, beautification, capital improvements, and streetscape enhancements.
North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr., who is a major proponent of the business improvement district model and was instrumental in helping to establish the two districts in the North Ward, said BIDs benefit both business owners and their patrons.
“BIDs help to support and supplement existing municipal services so that our business owners can continue to provide valuable services and products to our residents," Ramos said. "BID's are critical to the economic health of our city as well as to the quality of life of our residents."
North Ward resident Maria Fernandes said the Mount Prospect Partnership’s efforts were timely.
“They came in at 3 a.m. and cleared out an important bus stop in the center of the district that serves many senior citizens and front line workers in the area,” Fernandes said.
Likewise, on Lower Broadway less than a mile away, Natalia Villa a local property owner and stakeholder of the Bloomfield Avenue/Lower Broadway BID lauded recent efforts.
“Now instead of waiting days or weeks for the snow to melt, the street was plowed, allowing our customers and residents to park safely — definitely a great example of the benefits of our BID,” Villa said.
Bernardo said at the core of the business improvement district model is a public/private partnership that allows BID programming to be so successful.
“These activities, which were funded by the BIDs, were made possible by working together with our local councilman’s office, the City of Newark, and Essex County to coordinate schedules and additional resources,” Bernardo said.