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New members can help make city’s BID better

To the editor:

I have read several letters in the Gazette complaining about the Northampton Business Improvement District and making membership mandatory, a concept the Gazette endorsed last month. Most recent was a Dec. 11 letter from someone who eleccted to opt out of the BID and is a health care provider. He wrote that his clientele “does not come because the town is pleasant; they come hoping I can help them.”

He gets no direct benefit from the BID, he says, so why should he pay in?

A letter Dec. 7 from a retailer expressed similar sentiments. This man said he gets nothing from the BID because “[m]y property is not on Main Street. I do not benefit from Restaurant Week, Sidewalk Sales Days or BID-sponsored marketing ... any more than someone who has property on Ryan Road.”

Coming from a person I had perceived as civic-minded, these comments seem petty and disingenuous. The store’s website advertises its location: “in the heart of downtown Northampton. One block from Main St.”

Surely this retailer can’t claim that actions that draw more people to downtown Northampton don’t substantially help his business. The other writer is a psychotherapist. Aren’t his patients uplifted psychologically by a cheery, spruced-up downtown, as opposed to one with dirty sidewalks and withered plantings?

The authors’ questions about whether the BID is too expensive, or expends its resources wisely, are well taken. So is the question of how and whether Smith College should pay in, or provide in-kind services, to the BID (as it did by selling the city a snowplow, cheap, to keep more sections of the bike trail clear).

I ask the writers, why not join the BID and, as members, act to make it better?

That’s a lot more constructive, and admirable, than just complaining.

Raymond T. DeMeo


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