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Push For Downtown Special Improvement District Continues

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich calls rehabilitating Fort Lee’s downtown and establishing an SID “equally as important as Redevelopment Area 5.” What do you think?

The Fort Lee Mayor and Council took another step Thursday toward potentially designating an area of Main Street as a Special Improvement District (SID), a designation officials say would beautify the area and provide for everything from landscaping and planting, to improved curbs and crosswalks, to better facades and other improvements to downtown businesses.

Borough officials recently hired consultant Don Smartt, who NorthJersey.com reported has set up more than 30 such districts in New Jersey, “to determine whether the area would benefit from” SID designation at a cost of $15,000 and after reviewing almost 20 proposals, according to the report.

At the governing body’s executive session Thursday, Borough Administrator Peggy Thomas told Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich that the next step was determining “who you would like to meet with [Smartt] next to start the process.”

Sokolich informally nominated Councilwoman Ila Kasofsky to join him, and Councilman Joseph Cervieri volunteered to also meet with Smartt because, he said, “I felt badly that I could not participate in Area 5 because of a potential and a future of having a conflict, and I want to be there for this.”

Sokolich, who was quoted in the Suburbanite report as saying that Fort Lee “taxpayers are deserving of a better downtown area” and called the borough’s current downtown “tired” and “dirty,” has been pushing the idea for years.

At Thursday’s executive session he called it “equally as important as Redevelopment Area 5.”

“The rehabilitation of these pre-existing commercial zones is the single most important thing on my mind,” Sokolich said. “And I’m telling you, it’s happening, and it’s going to happen so I just want to make sure there’s a positive vibe there.”

maryann May 07, 2012 at 03:18 PM
It would be nice to have main street look better certainly but there are no stores or restaurants worth going into. One exception Frames of Mine.
CD Cantelli May 07, 2012 at 07:51 PM
Special Interests alive and well on the Fort Lee Council. Why do we need a councilman Cervieri who refuses to represent those who voted him into office because he intends to make money on the Tucker project.
Jack B Goode May 08, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Another Main Street study? this will make the 5th since 1999 . I will tell you for free what will make main street a desirable business district........PARKING, not lights, signs or pavers, certainly not aggressive parking authority ticketing activity. I think the governing body wants Main St to be a ghost town , so that businesses will all flock to the new Development.
Keith Jensen May 08, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Merchants #1 issue is parking. As an owner of a merchant processing company, no one has the pulse of the businesses and communities more than I given the nature of my work. Repeatedly, I attempted to give ideas to the Fort Lee Parking Authority and advice to reduce their processing fees. All requests have fallen on deaf ears for 5+ years. Likely, because the Parking Auth is anointed and completely autonomous in this town. Perfect example that you can provide free parking for 2 hours, or even 10 min is Westwood, a commuter hub for train and bus, they make it happen and retail stores thrive. Ask Conrad’s Candy or Hair Trendz and try to find available retail space. http://www.northjersey.com/shopping/announcements/146222005_Reminder_from_Westwood_Parking_Authority.html Englewood indeed is another ticket town which has plenty of available retail space. Speak to the owners: on1Dancewear, Tapas or Vero Uomo. They pay the ticket to keep their customer happy, especially when they run in for just 10min to pick something up. Armando’s, Pizza King, Santorini and more are at wits end with parking situation in FL. Not Pomodoro, but the PA avoids ticketing them.Odd? Customers do not return when they are uncomfortable about parking. There are efficient means for communities to address this. Fort Lee must eliminate their conventional thinking and be open for ideas. Better, eliminate the mysterious parking authority and fold it in with the rest of govt as most other towns do.
Toni M. May 08, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Keith Jensen, why not run for office in Fort Lee? I'll work on your campaign!!!

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