Growing up in Staten Island in the 60's and 70s I remember when Port Richmond Avenue was a shopping Mecca. While there is still shopping there, unfortunately it has lost it's luster over the years, as business owners moved to other areas and lost interest. There's a new game in town where business owners create Business Improvements Districts called BIDs. These BIDs allow land owners nd business owners and tenants to group together and pool resources to improve their neighborhood. Forest Avenue in West Brighton was the first community in Staten Island to succeed at this process. As a result the neighborhood is bustling, clean with an active business group and community. Pride is rampant and shopping is improved.

The Forest Avenue Business Improvement District sponsored their Annual Spring Stroll this week. The Spring stroll spanned Forest Avenue from Broadway to Hart Boulevard in West Brighton. This allowed the community to enjoy the beautiful weather, some sidewalk shopping, free food and a chance to get to know all of the people who work on the Avenue. Some of the shops participating were Pastosa Ravioli, Appleseed Homes, Beans and Leaves, Safari Realty, Afternoone's and scores of others. The community really enjoyed the event.

This event shows that Staten Island's businesses owners need to consider creating more BIDs in Staten Island. As a borough we are behind in this community improvement process. It's great to see the Forest Ave has taken the bull by the horns, with the help of the WBCLDC, which helped form and manage the Forest Ave. BID. There are more of these community improvement groups forming on Victory Blvd., Castleton Ave. and Hylan Blvd. These groups create a common interest to improve community standards. Business owners and land owners unite and pool ideas, money and strategies to bring business back to the community. Staten Island needs more of this. The average consumer forgets about local business. These groups bring the proper attention back to small business, personal service and neighborhood involvement. Let's hope they can move forward and help these Main Street type communities to thrive.