Local Development Corporation with Harris Beach PLLC (& Tom Suozzi?)

As mentioned yesterday, on the February 21st City Council agenda is the following item which seems to be creating a buzz:

WHEREAS, the City of Long Beach desires to retain the services of Harris Beach PLLC, 333 Earle Ovington Blvd., Uniondale, New York 11553 for the purposes of the formation, creation, organization and administration of a local development corporation and related public finance and economic development services; 

It was brought to my attention that our former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi is of counsel to Harris Beach PLLC. You can translate that anyway you want. Is our city hiring this firm as a political favor? Or is it pure coincidence? Or maybe we’re hiring them because of the word BEACH, which makes sense for Long Beach, no?

I mean, I get it. Politicians hire friends of politicians; or in this case – a former politician. Honor amongst thieves is what my Dad would call it, but I guess it’s not that much of a deal. As long as we pay attention to what exactly Harris Beach PLLC does for Long Beach.

Which brings me to the second part of this post: Why are we hiring Harris Beach PLLC again?

IS THIS THE BEGINNING OF A BID?

From my understanding, a Business Improvement District (BID) is when a city takes a commercial district and implements a ‘BID’ tax. The money collected is then used for beautification: adding benches, pedestrian lights, sidewalk improvements, facade & signage improvement, and being able to enforce strict sign laws for storefronts, keeping to a theme or downtown look – which in our case with Park Avenue would be red tile roofs and that spanish look. BIDS are also used if you want to dictate what types of businesses come in and stay out (aka – Dunkin’ Donuts in the West End (where are we now?). Please note: We have no BID in the West End. An example of a BID is the Garment District in NYC.

The main purpose of Harris Beach PLLC appears to be “Recruiting and Supporting Local Businesses.”  The agenda says nothing about a BID, so I don’t think this is the case, but I could be wrong.

THE LONG BEACH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

I mentioned in my post yesterday about the possible conflict of interest the Local Development Corporation could have with the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. Some questions I asked were the following:

  1. So this business consulting firm would help support local businesses? Isn’t that what the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce does?
  2. This business consulting firm will be aiding our community by attracting new businesses here and also encourage new development? Isn’t that what the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce does?

THIS CAME OUT OF NOWHERE

An insider told me this idea of hiring a Local Development Corporation came out of nowhere; We all found out when the February 21st agenda appeared on the City’s site. This just adds to the mystery over what exactly there purpose really is…

ARE THEY JUST BROKERS?

I have a feeling that Harris Beach PLLC will be just that – the middlemen. Brokers trying to attract new buisneses to Long Beach. For the most part, Long Beach has faired well in this horrible economy. Besides the Waldbaums shopping center and maybe the eastern end of Beech Street (with newly vacant Matteo’s), The vacancy rate hasn’t been that bad. So then what kind of businesses do these guys want to attract?

I like to think big. I want to turn Long Beach into a year round community, so let’s fix the rec center, bring an aquarium and marina to the bay side and maybe try to attract some of those silicon valley business that want some Long Island presence (see – A plan to create LI’s own Silicon Valley). Let’s get some jobs here and I don’t mean just retail. New types of businesses will do nothing, but strengthen the retail we already have.

I certainly hope we aren’t giving Harris Beach PLLC $15,000 to bring in more nail salons and pizza restaurants. Here is some advice to them if they want to know what some folks around here want: READ – “Please no more nail salons or real estate offices!” Then what do we want?   And the Results: Read – The Results of: Please no more nail salons or real estate offices!” Then what do we want?

Of course I am merely speculating here. Hopefully all our our questions will be answered tonight @ City Hall 7Pm.

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6 thoughts on “Local Development Corporation with Harris Beach PLLC (& Tom Suozzi?)”

  1. I went to the Long Island Listens program last night and have to say that I am so far impressed with our new city manager. To me, he seems like he won’t be part of the ‘that’s the way its always been done’ crowd. I think he brings a fresh young perspective to LB and I truly hope he (and the council) can make some positive changes to our city. Not sure this new LDC has anything to do with BID, but I personally would love to see improvements and code enforcement. It may take away some of the character, but more importantly it would take away some of the sloppiness of our current business areas, particularly the garbage issues ! Why we can’t have clean sidewalks (free of litter, garbage cans, bar spooge) by 8am on a weekend morning is beyond my understanding.

  2. 3711: I couldn’t agree with you more. WEBA (www.westendbeautification.org) has lobbied the City Council for a street sweeper, for sidewalk gum removal, new trash receptacles with liners, better commercial trash preparation and earlier pick-up times, a code enforcement officer etc. But the creation of a BID or similar business district agency will facilitate the incorporation of these vital improvements into a partnership between the business and property owners and the city and county. It is a win/win for everyone. Google “BID Nassau county” and you’ll find success stories in Westbury, Glen Cove and many other towns.

  3. s3711 & Mary Ellen,
    I agree with both of you! LB needs to get rid of the ‘that’s the way its always been done’ crowd and a BID would be great. I have seen Post Avenue on Westbury turn around and it’s really turning out to be a nice downtown. Once the performing arts center (old theater) opens up, it’s going to be great.

    That’s all North Hempstead. I heard the building department there is a complete mess, but they really do understand the concept of complete streets and smart development. Let’s hope some of that rubs off on the south shore.

  4. Mary Ellen, I applaud your efforts ! Have you been able to sit down with the new council ? If so, do they seem receptive ? When is your next meeting, would love to attend / help out.

  5. Anthony I applaud your efforts. “I certainly hope we aren’t giving Harris Beach PLLC $15,000 to bring in more nail salons and pizza restaurants.” I think they are just a law firm. I think we are hiring them to write up the paper work to form an LDC. Then we can hire the cronies to run the LDC. Watch ,wait and see.Seem to be spending a lot of money for a “City in Crisis”. At the end of the day if they could keep their hands out of my pockets,more power to them.(Not really)

  6. I have been in touch with the new City Council members and they have been gracious and helpful. Please contact me through the WEBA web site. Go to the tab “volunteering” and look for my e-mail address. Thank you for your interest and passion for our wonderful community.

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