WATERTOWN — The Watertown Downtown Business Association is hosting a virtual town hall meeting on Wednesday morning to present its plans for a downtown Business Improvement District in the city.

Joseph A. Wessner, president of the Downtown Business Association, said he hopes to convince the 107 property owners affected by establishing a BID that the proposal is a good idea.

Mr. Wessner, also assistant general manager of Coughlin Printing Group, and the BID steering committee will be on hand during the meeting to answer questions about it and how it will work.

The meeting will be held 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Stephanie DeVito, the BID executive director in Auburn, and one of Auburn’s major property owners, Mark DiVietro, also that city’s BID board president, also will attend the meeting to give their perspectives and answer questions about the benefits of a BID.

Members of Advantage Watertown got an update about the BID proposal on Thursday morning.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed progress on developing the BID, but Mr. Wessner said it’s time to get the project back on track. The pandemic detoured the efforts.

“COVID was the best time not to do this, but it’s the best time to put it on the table,” he said.

Proponents need 51 percent approval from the property owners to move forward with the plan.

While the DBA has solely relied on volunteer efforts, a paid executive director would be hired to run the BID.

Geoffrey T. Urda, a DBA member and city planner, said the paid person would be responsible for marketing and promoting downtown.

The DBA intends to present the plan to the City Council this spring. Council members have the final say. Before the pandemic, some business owners came out in support of the BID proposal.

The person would be “the first point contact for business owners or to start a business,” he said.

Business improvement districts have been around since the 1980s. A BID was proposed for downtown in 1993, but several business owners voted against it and quashed it.

Dr. Jason White, Advantage Watertown’s chairman, said he made a point of visiting Geneva, Ithaca, Corning, Auburn and Canandaigua this past year to see how their BIDs helped their communities.

Register for the event online, either through the DBA website (publicsquare.com), FaceBook page, send an email at WatertownDBA@publicsquare.com or call 315-755-2721.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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