The six candidates running for two, three-year Borough Council seats this fall have expressed differing opinions on the need to create a Special Improvement District (SID) to support a non-profit’s local business initiatives.
Democrats Jeff Roos and incumbent Christine Zamarra said this week that they “actively support’’ the creation of an SID to provide the Main Street Bernardsville organization a consistent revenue source.
“One of the roles of the Borough Council is to help create a vibrant business environment for new and established businesses,’’ Roos said in an emailed statement to this newspaper. “A thriving, attractive business district contributes to the quality of life of the Bernardsville’s residents and supports rising property values.
“The contributions of Main Street Bernardsville (formerly Downtown Bernardsville) are well known: they organize the winter holiday parade, and related events like the cookie crawl, the Haunted History program, the Easter Eggstravaganza, a car show, and small business Saturday, all of which bring many people – both Bernardsville residents and visitors from out of town – into our local business district.
“The SID would provide a mechanism for the businesses of Bernardsville to organize as a single entity, to raise funds for activities that supplement municipal and volunteer services, and to manage themselves to become a more effective shopping/dining/commercial destination,’’ he added. “The SID allows the businesses of a municipality to operate more like the businesses in a mall, managed by a single group with an overall marketing strategy. The SID operates with a funded budget and can actively recruit desirable and complementary businesses into town.
“It would manage the appearance, marketing, and events for the commercial district in ways that the borough, the businesses and our volunteer groups, all operating independently, could not hope to achieve,’’ he concluded.
Creating an SID has been backed by Republican Mayor Mary Jane Canose and Zamarra, while Council President Jena McCredie, a Republican, said she is not currently in favor of the idea.