River Edge May Seek Creation of Special Improvement District

Borough officials will seek input from business owners on how to improve the Kinderkamack Road corridor business areas

With a struggling economy, tight budgets, and empty storefronts along the Kinderkamack Road corridor in River Edge, the governing body may seek input from local businesses regarding the creation of a Special Improvement District (SID).

The SID is a model for managing the municipalities commercial corridor by providing business and property owners the ability to organize as a single entity, raise funds for activities that enhance or expand upon municipal services, and through a District Management Corporation, to manage themselves to become a more effective destination for commerce.

"For the downtown area, you would first need to do a special assessment of the commercial properties and conduct a feasibility study to see if the borough could implement a SID," borough attorney Sam Cereste said.

Part of the study would require the borough to define what constitutes a commercial area in town such as the downtown area along Main Street and Grant Avenue and the larger strip malls along Kinderkamack Road.

But the key would have having all of the local business owners support the creation of a Special Improvement District. In the long-term scenario, a SID functions like a corporation with a budget and led by an Executive Director. If approved, the SID would be in charge of its own maintenance and marketing of the area.

"Tenafly considered a Special Improvement District," Cereste said. "They needed $20,000 for a study, half supplied by the borough and the rest by a state grant. The first thing to do is conduct a hearing and find out what the public feels about a SID in the community and enlist the support of the Chamber of Commerce."

In Tenafly's case, the SID initially faced challenges from its business owners due to a lack of a specifically defined area to be included. Owners also balked at the public-private partnership in which property and business owners are levied assessments that fund improvements within the district’s borders. Business owners concerns in Tenafly have not changed over the years and now even the borough's governing body has begun to have doubts, although Mayor Peter Rustin called to give the district one more year.

This would not be the first time that River Edge has explored creating a Special Improvement District as the governing body sought out support from the Chamber in 2002 and 2005. The town also applied for a grant to cover the Executive Directors costs as well but was not successful.

An SID Executive Director is charged with running the day-to-day operations but reports to a Board of Directors comprised of business property owners, business owners, a resident of the borough and borough officials.

Bergenfield's SID Executive Director Don Smartt expressed interest in speaking to River Edge about the benefits of the special improvement district, according to Councilwoman Kathleen Murphy.

Some of the benefits that Bergenfield has found is the creation of its own website to promote local businesses and tie in with social media sites such as Facebook and Youtube and the support of the business community.

"We can't entertain a Special Improvement District if the business community is not on board," Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo said. "If we could get the 10 largest commerical owners together and see if five or six would be on board then we could work to gain the support of the rest. But it would be impossible if the business community is not on board."

Councilman Edward Mignone has called for the Zoning Subcommittee to also look into the creation of a SID; currently River Edge does not allow street parking on Kinderkamack Road which could be a major component of increasing patronage to the business district.

"I'm all for Mr. Smartt and Oradell's planner Paul Philips come in and speak to us," Mignone said. Oradell does allow on-street parking along Kinderkamack Road from Oradell Avenue to Brookside Avenue as a benefit to its local businesses.

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amy forman August 13, 2012 at 03:29 PM
The logical thing to do would be to talk to towns that have created an SID and see what benefits this would bring to River Edge.
Patricia Arlin Bradley August 13, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Something needs to be done desperately. Many of the landlords of these commercial buildings are absentee and ask ridiculous rents. Much of the Kinderkamack corridor looks like a slum.
GGT August 14, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Interesting how Walgreens wanted to open in Oradell (residents foolishly turned it down), but yet apparently had no interest in River Edge. And it is not because of CVS, as there is a Rite Aid in Oradell.
Kristin O'Meara August 15, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Actually, River Edge wasn't overlooked. Oradell residents suggested the Huffmann-Koos site as an alternative to the developer and to Walgreens headquarters. River Edge didn't go after the business. It's a good thing the new administration is actively trying to attract business.
Alphonse Bartelloni August 15, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I have to comment on the last post. There is this thought that local government can pick and choice what businesses elect to come into the town. The former Huffman Koos site is privately owned. Walgreens would have to contact them and negotiate an agreement with the owners of that property to develope the site. That being said this Council is willing to work with the business community to develop or redevelop sites. River Edge welcomes business. We recognize that continually reinvestment by the business community it vital to our future.
RE-SOHO August 16, 2012 at 01:30 AM
RE-SOHO, I am new to the inner workings of River Edge Business world, but are there still two Chambers? If so, a good start would be for them to end whatever turf war has occured and unify into one unit. But it seems as if whatever is trying to be developed in River Edge, no matter who is holding the Mayors gavel, is taking longer then any other town in the area.
GGT August 16, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Kristen: I am quite sure official from Walgreen's did not need residents from Oradell to point out the old Huffman Koos site. These large corporations scout out areas for potential stores either in house, or through large commercial real estate companies. It seems quite obvious to me that they (Walgreen's) wanted to locate in Oradell, and for whatever reason or reasons passed on River Edge.
GGT August 16, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Alphonse: I have been saying the same thing for years. Somehow some of our savvy sophisicated, highly educated residents don't seem to understand that fact. The level of ignorance is astounding.
Dick Goesoutya August 16, 2012 at 06:15 PM
RE-SOHO...there used to be 2 chambers and due to one chamber member's overbearing manner and insistence on merging River Edge and Oradell, there is currently only one combined Chamber of Commerce. Most River Edge business owners do not feel that this merged Chamber does any real service for RE business owners except take their membership dues.
Dick Goesoutya August 16, 2012 at 06:22 PM
GGT.....must be hard to be the smartest guy in the room surrounded by pure ignoramuses, how do you do it? I feel bad for you man.
GGT August 16, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Dick G: It is hard, but I get through it.
Dick Gozinia August 18, 2012 at 02:44 PM
cant we just get a bowling alley in town?
Dick Goesoutya August 18, 2012 at 02:55 PM
sure, right down the middle of Kinderkamack Rd.
GGT August 19, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Dick: You are a reguar comedian, while you are crakcing jokes the town continues it's decline.


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