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ROTTERDAM: Area may adopt BID

According to Mastroianni, the Upper Union Street BID was created in 2001 and includes 65 buildings and more than 90 businesses.

State law governs formal BIDs. Essentially, BIDs are run like a business with a budget and board of directors. The BID makes money by charging property owners based on the assessment of their properties. Mastroianni said the Upper Union Street BID collects the most it can and brings in $45,000 a year.

The money is used for various maintenance projects, including light repairs to sidewalks, roads and parking lots, trashcans, flowerpots, decorative signs and other beautification elements. The money also funds various promotional festivals and activities that take place in the area, such as this weekend's Strawberry Festival.

Mastroianni said the process of creating a BID took about nine months because law requires a series of public hearings, meetings and paperwork.

Running a BID takes time. Mastroianni said he lost about $20,000 to $25,000 due to the time he spent away from his business for the BID.

"I don't want to discourage anyone from doing this, because it has been successful for us, but it can take a lot of time away from your business," Mastroianni said.

Once a BID is created, any business owner within the district has no choice but to participate, which means paying extra money for the BID each year. Mastroianni said more than half of the district's businesses have to formally reject the BID proposal for it to be defeated. He said not saying anything is a sign of agreement.

One of the most famous BIDs is Times Square, which was created in 1990. Locally there are three BIDs in Albany County, Lark Street, Downtown and Central Avenue. Upper Union Street is the only BID in Schenectady.

"We have become a brand name," Mastroianni said. "People say Upper Union Street and you know where that is. You don't have to say in Schenectady." ""

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