Taking Stock on the Upper West Side

| 17 Feb 2015 | 01:06

Lincoln Square BID holds its 17th annual meeting, talks of cutting through red tape

Lincoln Square "Seven snowstorms, 56 inches of snow, it was an amazing winter," said Monica Blum, President of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District. "It was really a terrible winter, as we all know."

Blum was recapping the seventh snowiest winter on record in New York, and touching on the achievements of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District at its 17th annual meeting, held last week at Fordham University on West 60th Street.

Among the achievements touted by Blum were the improvements to Dante Park and Richard Tucker Park, as well as the successful execution of Winter's Eve, the BID's annual Christmas celebration. Blum said the event has become New York's biggest holiday celebration.

Great strides have been made in the district's parks, but there's more work ahead, she said. "It's not quite done, Dante still needs more plants but I'm harassing [the Parks Department] and every time I see a loose paver I contact the contractor who comes back and fixes them," said Blum. "But it's really been an incredible accomplishment for this neighborhood because we've been working on that for 15 years."

Maria Torres Springer, the commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Small Business Services, undoubtedly got several people excited when she told BID members and guests that the SBS would be "working to cut through the red tape."

"I think the city can be a better partner to BIDs," said Torres-Springer, who was appointed to the position in January by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Although Torres-Springer did not outline how the SBS would help small businesses navigate the city's more complicated hoops, Blum said she's confident the administration will make good on their promise.

"I think cutting through the red tape will be wonderful," said Blum. "We have a lot of business people here, and you should all know that SBS is serious about cutting through the red tape. If you have issues, you should take her up on the offer because I think she means it."

Phillip Banks III, chief of department at the NYPD, told the BID that collaboration and communication are incredibly important to the success and improvement of any community, and that the department will be increasingly focused on quality of life issues in subways and parks and increasing pedestrian safety.

"We have too many traffic fatalities in the city, too many that could have been prevented," said Banks. "[Vision Zero] will save lives."

Last month the state legislature passed a bill allowing New York City to increase the number of speed cameras on city streets to 140, a steep increase from the 20 currently in operation.

Carlos Valladares, a member of the BID's Green Team cleanup crew, won an integrity award for returning a wallet he found that contained $400 to a student at Borough of Manhattan Community College.

Returning to the red tape theme, City Council member Helen Rosenthal told the BID that, as chair of the City Council's Committee on Contracts, her job is to act as oversight on city agencies and to make sure that services are being delivered to city residents, including the business community.

"To the extent that you're having procurement issues with the city, to the extent that there are overall contracting issues, to the extent that you see places where there might be cost overruns, please let my office know," said Rosenthal. "I was gratified to hear the new commissioner for Small Business Services talk about cutting the red tape for small businesses. My job is to make sure that she does that?If SBS is not helping you cut through red tape, please let my office know."