Fair Lawn has plan to boost Broadway

Thursday, July 17, 2003


FAIR LAWN - Small clusters of stores on Broadway offer auto parts, toys, office supplies, and dry-cleaning. A movie marquee invites people to first-run films, and sandwich boards outside restaurants advertise daily specials.

But the mini-malls show signs of age. And many motorists whiz by en route to the expansive glitter of Paramus shopping palaces.

Now, borough officials are hoping to encourage some of these shoppers to put on the brakes for a stop in Fair Lawn.

On Tuesday night the Borough Council discussed the possible creation of a Special Improvement District for Broadway, which runs through the borough from Paterson to Elmwood Park. A SID assesses fees on merchants and then reinvests the money on the shopping district in improvements such as sidewalk repairs and lighting upgrades. The money can also be used for a unified advertising campaign.

The River Road Improvement Corp. (RRIC), a SID established 11 years ago in Fair Lawn, has already worked with merchants on that shopping street to improve parking and sidewalks.

It has also helped attract new stores and championed a zoning change that allows residences above stores.

The plan for Broadway proposed Tuesday night by Don Smartt, head of the RRIC, would also create a borough-wide economic development corporation to attract new businesses to the borough.

Town officials are also considering establishing a SID for the Radburn area, which is recovering from the effects of a devastating fire last year that displaced a number of businesses. Discussions on a Radburn SID are just beginning.

Before proceeding to form any new group, the council is seeking input from business owners who would face additional assessments.

The council also wants business owners to show their commitment by pooling together $16,250 to provide half the money needed for start-up costs of a Broadway SID and an Economic Development Corp.

Deputy Mayor Allen Weinstein said a meeting, probably in late September, would bring together municipal officials and business leaders. "It has to be a partnership between the businesses and the town," said Weinstein.