Share this page on facebook
Main Street debate sparks talk of takeover by BID group PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 17:58

BID officials say move may be needed ‘to right the ship’ but wait for public input

    In order to save Port Main Street Inc. and preserve the benefits of the organization, the Business Improvement District may have to take over the organization — at least for a time, BID Board President Neil Tiziani said Tuesday.

    “Main Street can function within BID as an alternative,” Tiziani said. “It would give us a chance to right the ship ... then send it on its way.”

    This would allow the BID board to better monitor Main Street, create a long and short-term vision for the organization and help create a budget and funding plan, he said.

    To facilitate this, Tiziani said, the BID board could hire on a short-term basis former Main Street executive director Sara Grover, who has the knowledge of the organization’s budget and programming.

    The Main Street program is worth saving, Tiziani said, as evidenced by the redevelopment that has occurred downtown and the number of volunteers working with the group.

    “None of us want to run events and do those things,” he said. “Our goal is to keep Main Street going in one shape or form or another.”

    Main Street is currently not in compliance with all the state requirements for the program, Tiziani said, adding one of those requirements is for the group to have a full-time executive director.

    “We have a grace period to fix it,” he said.

    But the BID board took no action after hearing that Main Street Inc. is holding a meeting for its constituents at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, at Heron Bay Banquet Hall to get input on what they want from the group.

    Jim Biever, president of the Main Street board, told the BID board that there is a need for better communication with downtown businesses and property owners.

    “I had a feeling Main Street didn’t listen to downtown,” Biever said, instead taking its direction from the state and federal Main Street organizations. “Maybe we’ll find out Main Street is not the way people want to go.”

    Jim Neulreich, who with his wife Deb operates Zing Boutique, questioned whether Main Street can ever regain the trust needed to be an effective organization, suggesting that the best solution might be to disband and transfer the group’s duties to the Chamber of Commerce.

    In order to save Port Main Street Inc. and preserve the benefits of the organization, the Business Improvement District may have to take over the organization — at least for a time, BID Board President Neil Tiziani said Tuesday.

    “Main Street can function within BID as an alternative,” Tiziani said. “It would give us a chance to right the ship ... then send it on its way.”

    This would allow the BID board to better monitor Main Street, create a long and short-term vision for the organization and help create a budget and funding plan, he said.

    To facilitate this, Tiziani said, the BID board could hire on a short-term basis former Main Street executive director Sara Grover, who has the knowledge of the organization’s budget and programming.

    The Main Street program is worth saving, Tiziani said, as evidenced by the redevelopment that has occurred downtown and the number of volunteers working with the group.

    “None of us want to run events and do those things,” he said. “Our goal is to keep Main Street going in one shape or form or another.”

    Main Street is currently not in compliance with all the state requirements for the program, Tiziani said, adding one of those requirements is for the group to have a full-time executive director.

    “We have a grace period to fix it,” he said.

    But the BID board took no action after hearing that Main Street Inc. is holding a meeting for its constituents at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31, at Heron Bay Banquet Hall to get input on what they want from the group.

    Jim Biever, president of the Main Street board, told the BID board that there is a need for better communication with downtown businesses and property owners.

    “I had a feeling Main Street didn’t listen to downtown,” Biever said, instead taking its direction from the state and federal Main Street organizations. “Maybe we’ll find out Main Street is not the way people want to go.”

    Jim Neulreich, who with his wife Deb operates Zing Boutique, questioned whether Main Street can ever regain the trust needed to be an effective organization, suggesting that the best solution might be to disband and transfer the group’s duties to the Chamber of Commerce.

    But members of the BID board were adamant that Main Street provides a valuable service to the downtown.

    Board member Brian Barber said that a collaboration between Main Street and Port Washington State Bank made it possible for him to bring his company to the downtown.

    “It would be a shame to see them go away,” Barber said.

    Wayne Chrusciel, a BID board member who will run Thursday’s meeting, said it’s important to get support from the downtown business and property owners.

    “I think we have to get their buy-in,” Chrusciel said. “They’re funding it.”

    The BID and Main Street programs are intertwined in many ways. The BID, which is funded through a city tax on downtown property owners, had funded Main Street since its inception with an annual contribution of about $55,000. That has been supplemented with  a $25,000 annual contribution from the city.

    However, frustrated by the aftermath of the Rock the Harbor Harley-Davidson anniversary festival that lost an estimated $20,000 of Main Street funds, the city’s Finance and License Committee last week recommended the city ends its contribution.

    Committee members also said they would not allow the BID to contribute funds to Main Street unless it ends the year without any debt.

    Main Street board member Harry Schaumburg questioned how the BID could take over the program.Daily-Press

    “What you’re trying to accomplish requires a great deal of cooperation between BID and Main Street,” Schaumburg said. “You can’t take us over. You can invite us in. We’re a totally separate entity.”

    The Main Street board owns the information about its programs and financing, he added, not BID.

    Tiziani said the state Economic Development Corp. could transfer the Main Street agreement to the BID, leaving the existing Main Street board as a separate non-profit agency.