As two of the many vocal opponents of the Old Town BID, we applaud the recommendation to not press forward with a Business Improvement District (BID) in Old Town. While it is tempting to celebrate that we “successfully fought City Hall,” there are serious issues still facing the city. The BID process demonstrates a failure to listen to its citizens and stakeholders.
While there was real tension between advocates and opponents of the BID, both sides held important critiques of the city. In fact, the BID advocates (not us) said city staff was unable to support businesses, unable to adapt policies in a timely manner, unable to maintain existing city services, and insufficiently capable to managing the waterfront. We were puzzled that this significant indictment of city management was not viewed as controversial.
The city should look at the BID failure to honestly re-examine its world view. Nearly every business and resident in Old Town cites parking as a concern that affects them negatively. Yet the city repeatedly dismisses these concerns. By listening to its stakeholders, the city can improve the residential and business climate in our city. The previous top down instructions are never a good approach. While businesses have many
views on solutions, the reality is that the city didn’t bother to engage them. In fact, the Council BID vote was in June. Despite Council’s acknowledgement that they had received more constructive comments from opponents than proponents, not once, not ever did city staff reach out during the entire summer to garner our suggestions. It speaks volumes to the fact that they were not interested in engaging with businesses with a different viewpoint. Even more troubling is that we read that Vice Mayor Justin Wilson still wants to push forward with an Old Town BID tax.
Kim Putens, Owner, Bloomers
Dan Hazelwood, Owner, Targeted Creative Communications