It stands for Special Improvement District - an area created in a city where merchants pool resources for public improvements such as roads, sidewalks, streetscapes and facades, in order to foster economic growth.
In Jersey City, there are four S.I.Ds: in Journal Square, McGinley Square, Central Avenue and Downtown Jersey City (known as the Historic Downtown SID).
All four cover some of the oldest and busiest business districts in the city.
The Historic Downtown SID recently had a change on its board of directors, when a new group of local business owners mustered support to replace some of the longer-time members and dispose of the idea of having a paid director. The Historic Downtown SID covers businesses on portions of Grove Street and Newark Avenue.
Several old and new board members spoke about their work and challenges ahead at a time when there is new construction on the way.Saving money on staff
The board of seven members has now expanded to nine, and there are seven new members on that board as a result of May elections.
The current members are: Megan O'Sullivan (president of the board) Marcelo Kruschewsky Duarte (vice president), Elizabeth Young (secretary), Sawyer Smith (treasurer), Beata Kaczkowska, Angela Karpowicz Schwartz, David O'Brien, Jerry Blankman, and George Mercado. Blankman and Mercado are the only two members who were re-elected.
The elections occur once a year, and usually, there are few changes. But the recent board election was different, as more than 40 people showed up and voted in some new members.
Don Smartt was the paid administrator of the SID until last month. He said the new board wants to run the district more proactively rather than entrust the day-to-day operations to one administrator and a paid staff.
"I was entrusted to do a job by the board, and I felt I did the best job possible," said Smartt, who had served since July 2001. "The model for running the S.I.D that the new board is a good one since it will cut costs - but it puts a lot of responsibility on volunteers. But I wish them nothing but the best. If it works, it could be very productive."
The SID now employs a part-time bookkeeper and a part-time administrator to cover the work that Smartt and his staff did.
Smartt said that he will miss helping a business district grow, especially in Downtown Jersey City where he started his first business, met his wife, and developed close relationships with a number of business owners. He included former board member Pete Klapper and current member Jerry Blankman, the owner of Palace Drugs and the past president of the Board of Trustees. A new IDentity
The new board members include some relatively new business owners in Jersey City. Among them is Sawyer Smith, the owner of Beechwood Café and Market on Grove Street, who is the newly elected treasurer on the board.
Smith spoke recently about the changes the board wants to initiate.
"There was a group of business owners who wanted to get involved hand-on in the development of the district," said Smith. He said that since May, the new members have been working on creating committees to address issues such as new streetscapes, maintaining cleanup of the streets, and bringing new businesses into the district.
Smith also said that the new board members have also taken to meeting each business owner in the district to find out their needs from the SID and to encourage them to get more involved.
"There is so much more that can happen in this district, and that wasn't happening with the old board," said Smith. Landscape changes
Smith said that this change in the board reflects the physical changes in the landscape. Already, a new entrance for the PATH station has opened on Christopher Columbus Drive in anticipation of the 29-story, 525-unit Grove Pointe luxury housing complex that broke ground in May. And in conjunction with the construction of the Grove Pointe, the developers will also renovate the park near the Grove Street station. Blankman praised
Board member Pete Klapper, owner of Hudson Camera on Newark Avenue, is another member saying adieu. Klapper had served as vice-president of the Historic Downtown S.I.D for four years.
Klapper credits the new group of contenders for rallying support that translated into their election onto the board. Klapper said that while he was perplexed for "15 minutes" after the election finshed, he wishes the board nothing but success and looks forward to seeing what changes they have in mind.
"They seem like a young and energetic board who want to take a hands-on approach to running the S.I.D., and I wish them well," said Klapper.
Board member and former President Jerry Blankman is remaining on the board, and was praised by former administrator Don Smartt.
"Working with Jerry was an honor and a privilege," Smartt said. "Anytime I needed Jerry to listen to any ideas I had to improve or promote the district, he was there."
Blankman in turn praised Smartt for being a hard worker who helped the district make strides financially, starting in 2001 at a time when the SID had to shut its operations for three months because of a budget deficit and working to bring in new business into the district.
Blankman also said that while he didn't completely agree with the board's decision not to retain Smartt, as a returning board member, he is looking forward to working with the new board and seeing the changes they are planning to initiate. For more information about the Historic Downtown S.I.D., visit the website www.jcdowntown.com