New York Post article critical of Washington Heights BID
by Daniel P. Bader
The Washington Heights Business Improvement District and its director George Sanchez were the subject of a scathing story in the March 25 edition of the New York Post that focused on misuse of city tax dollars. Photos of Sanchez and shuttered storefronts on Broadway near W. 181st Street accompanied the article that highlighted several city BIDs, which collect special taxes from area landlords to pay for street cleaning and other services to promote commercial corridors.
Members of the Washington Heights BID and people who ran programs for the organization interviewed by the Post said Sanchez was rarely around; some merchants said they had never even met him.
According to the Post article, the Washington Heights BID, which encompasses most of W. 181st Street and several blocks of St. Nicholas Avenue, has a yearly budget of nearly $500,000, but the story asserted that members see few services besides annual holiday lighting and regular sidewalk cleaning. The article also said Sanchez received a $92,000 salary in 2007 and $117,000 in 2006.
The BID’s Web site, http://www.washingtonhgtsbid.org, does not appear to have content that has been updated since around late 2006 or early 2007. The annual Children’s Health Fair is one of the BID’s largest endeavors and occurred last year on Sep. 7.
After the Manhattan Times placed numerous phone calls to the BID office at 1456 St. Nicholas Ave., Sanchez responded to an email declining to comment on the New York Post story or to speak about the BID. An inquiry to the city’s Department of Small Business Services, which oversees the city’s 60 BIDs, was referred to the program director who oversees BIDs, who did not call back before press time.
In a March 16 letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Member Tony Avella, who is running for mayor, called for putting smaller BIDs under the oversight of the city’s community boards to better address the needs of small businesses. Avella cited Sanchez as an example of “ineffective, nearly invisible ‘leadership’” that plagues some of the smaller BIDs.