Business Improvement District considered for Watertown

wwny Business Improvement District considered for Watertown

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Are downtown Watertown businesses willing to chip in cash to improve and grow Public Square? The Watertown Downtown Business Association is looking to start a group to answer that question.

It's called a BID, or Business Improvement District.

Mike Martini is a manager at Avon Shoes in Public Square. He likes the idea, but says there's something that still needs to be figured out.

"You know, the cost of course," said Martini.

A BID is overseen by a not for profit and it's paid for by the businesses it serves.

The money would be used to provide services to beautify the area and provide more things to do.

DBA President Joseph Wessner says the association will be surveying and talking to downtown business and property owners over the next few weeks.

He says what they say will help the DBA come up with a total cost and whether or not people want to do it.

"We need to get their input on what they're looking for and what can make their lives better downtown," he said.

The last time the possibility of a BID was brought up was more than 25 years ago. The idea at the time didn’t receive much support. But now, DBA officials say they want to do things differently.

"The '93 BID wasn't put together properly from what we can tell. What we're looking to do is to build a consensus before we even get to the proposal phase," said Wessner.

City Manager Rick Finn says the city will support the DBA during the process. But the BID would be completely run by downtown businesses.

"They run it. They operate it. They have their own budget. They set their budget. And, it's really self-initiated by the members of the BID district," said Finn.

Wessner says downtown property and business owners, along with the city council would have to approve the BID if they decide to make one.

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