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Downtown Easton Property Owners Reject NID

Eleven days before the deadline, 40 percent of property owners have registered their objection to the plan.

It's all but official—the proposed Neighborhood Improvement District has been rejected by downtown Easton property owners.

Of the 488 affected properties, 198 had officially registered disapproval of the plan with the city clerk's office as of Thursday afternoon, City Clerk Thomas Hess said.

By law, the plan is to be jettisoned if 40 percent of affected property owners, or in this case 195 of them, protest the move in writing. The deadline for such 'nay' votes is Dec. 12 and the city clerk's office will continue to accept and count objections until then, Hess said.

The city had unveiled the NID at a , which revealed downtown residents and property owners were divided on the proposal. One property owner even led an on-line campaign to get people to write in agains the district.

If approved, the NID would have assessed Downtown property owners within the district with a fee -- 1 mill for residential property owners, 5 mills for commercial properties -- to help fund the Easton Main Street and Ambassadors programs. 

While most people seemed to support the work done by Main Street and the Ambassadors, they couldn't agree on how to fund them. Some property owners said they didn't benefit from either program. Supporters argued the NID was necessary to help continue improvements downtown.

Mayor Sal Panto has previously said that if the NID proposal were to fail, the city will still , possibly by raising parking meter rates.

That decision, however, is not likely to be made until after the city completes its parking study, sometime in the spring of 2012. In the meantime, the Main Street and Ambassadors programs , Panto has also said.

Christina Georgiou December 01, 2011 at 10:14 PM
Everyone's opinion is appreciated, but before this devolves into another off-topic (and off-putting) on-line flame war, it should be noted that the board chair of the GEDP and a vocal supporter of the NID proposal is Mike Dowd, a Republican (and county councilman until year's end). Local politics often supercede national political memes. Why not be more accurate, and just say you vehemently dislike administrative decision making that excludes the citizenry? It seems to me neither left nor right is innocent of that crime these days.
Dennis R. Lieb December 02, 2011 at 06:36 PM
Response, Part One Thanks Christina...as an occasional reader of these comments, I see constant, polarizing ideology destroying any intelligent conversation about specific core issues we need to address. It's pathetic that social discourse has devolved to this when we consider the written record of citizen leadership from our revolutionary and civil war periods showing ten times the intellect and emotional restraint during times as violent as any in our history. In today's anonymous digital environment it is much to easy getting away with being an idiot. I am convinced that a flawed public process - going back to the original letter sending campaign to property owners - was the main contributor to the defeat of the proposed NID. As a committed supporter of the NID, I have no problem with the property-owning public rejecting this proposal. Now it falls to all of us (elected officials, business owners and regular citizens) to figure out what the next steps are. Those steps include more than simply funding alternatives, but also deciding what services are required where and at what times, how the work can be apportioned and who will manage it. A re-examination of all aspects of Main Street, Ambassadors and augmented code enforcement should be on the table, especially for cleanliness problems, signage/store design and business recruitment/management assistance shortcomings pointed out by speakers during the NID hearing process. Dennis R. Lieb End Part One
Dennis R. Lieb December 02, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Response, Part Two As some know, I've been proposing a Parking Benefit District (PBD) for the funding mechanism downtown. Whether or not a NID is considered in the future, there is an opportunity to be proactive/creative via a PBD today. We have the power to institute this program before funding becomes critical. I am adamantly convinced that moving the management/expenditure of parking revenue into the hands of downtown property owners will accomplish both a sense of responsibility within the business community for downtown's success and a dedicated revenue stream that can't be arbitrarily redirected by whim as political winds change over time. This is not an experiment; it has worked across the country and can be a foundation for long term, incremental improvement to downtown (via dedicated meter revenue) through both regular maintenance and capital improvements funded by bond proceeds paid back with an increment of the dedicated meter money. I did a thumbnail calculation for just the four-square block core of downtown on weekend evenings (currently free at the curb after 6pm) and came up with an additional $120,000 just by setting proper pricing and hours of operation. This considers no additional revenue from hour or price adjustments the rest of the week in other metered areas. I'm working towards presenting council with a proposal for such a program before year's end. Dennis R. Lieb
Tom Coombe December 02, 2011 at 07:14 PM
Thank you, Dennis.
An interested bystander December 02, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Christina and Dennis, I apologize. You're right, sometimes it's too easy to be an idiot. I would challenge you though on your belief that the NID failed due to a flawed public process. I think it failed because the business and residential communities disagreed with you on the value of the NID. Disagreement is good, we can all grow from it. But we can't grow if we don't listen. I continue to stand on my position that the business community have substantial input on any direction taken. I also think residences should be excluded. It's their lives and livelihood on the line, and it should not be treated as an experiment zone. If the PBD is as good as you say, they'll support it.

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