DOMA pushes for a Business Improvement District (BID)
By DARCEL CHOY Tuesday, August 7 2012
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LOCAL Government Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan, left, and DOMA president Gregory Aboud have a birdseye view of the city....
The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) yesterday requested legislation be considered obligating the business community in Port-of-Spain to contribute to a central business fund known as a Business Improvement District (BID).
DOMA President, Gregory Aboud, made the request to Local Government Minister Dr Suruj Rambachan during a meeting at the Trinidad Union Club at Nicholas Towers, Port-of-Spain.
Addressing reporters after the meeting, Aboud said the BID concept was based on a model done in the United States.
“It recognises that not everybody contributes voluntarily. It obliges the owner of the business or the owner of the building to make a nominal contribution that is worked out on a formula,” he said.
He noted that the association discussed the concept with the previous government but they did not succeed in convincing them on it.
“The fact is the business community has a responsibility to contribute to the environment within which they operate,” he said.
Aboud explained that the BID was like a condominium concept where persons who live in a building contribute to common services. He said from the fund those contributing to it would elect officers and those officers would be responsible for maintenance, security, cleanliness and decoration.
“Instead of us always complaining about crime a properly funded BID would put street security officers on the beat, instead of always complaining about vagrancy the BID system would give the conscientious members of the business community some funding with which to come up with programmes, such as a soup kitchen, or a park, or some sort of area to accommodate street dwellers. BID is a modern mechanism to responding to the complaints; we cant expect the Government to do everything,” he said.
Aboud said they also discussed parking in the city and Rambachan agreed to work with Port-of-Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing, DOMA and other stakeholders to come up with a concept to organise municipal parking.
When asked about Lee Sing’s suggestion for a park and ride in the city, Aboud said that would not be desirable to the business community. He suggested municipal transit.
“We don’t personally feel it would work. As far as shoppers are concerned, why park and ride to a destination when they can drive to another destination, and get what they want. We believe that a better concept for Port-of-Spain would be organised municipal transit,” he said.
Asked about crime in the city Aboud said Port-of-Spain was very safe as they have a good central business unit which operates from Police Headquarters, and they were in discussion with National Security Minister, Jack Warner, on how to strengthen that unit. He said he was hopeful that security would be improved between now and Christmas.
When asked about how the Government intends to deal with vagrancy in the city, Rambachan said Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh will announce a comprehensive programme in two weeks, “that the country will be very happy about.”