It has been a whirlwind of a year for the Glen Cove Downtown Business Improvement District, with business owners and leaders creating innovative ways to serve customers and for people to gather safely in the city’s downtown.
Members of the BID, along with residents, reflected on the past, present and future at the group’s virtual annual meeting on Monday night. Guest speakers included U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton and Glen Cove Mayor Tim Tenke, who swore in new members of the BID’s board of directors.
“I have said over and over again how proud I am of our downtown businesses,” said Patricia Holman, the organization’s executive director. “How they have helped and transformed our businesses overnight, and how proud I am to be part of a community that supported our businesses.”
Whether it was advocating for the closure of School and Glen streets for dining, making Downtown Sounds a success by inviting musical acts to play live at Tiki Recording Studios or hosting a socially distant tree lighting, 2020 was a successful year for the BID, despite its challenges.
The group produced a commercial that aired on News 12 and Verizon Fios over 600 times, marketing the downtown area as a place where visitors can find flavors from around the world.
“This year we celebrated the opening of Village Square, welcomed new residents and welcomed six new businesses,” Holman said. “We work closely with property owners, Realtors and potential downtown businesses to help promote all the downtown has to offer.”
This year, Holman said, the BID planned to focus on economic development downtown, while continuing its marketing with television and social media ads. “We will be able to continue our special events,” she said.
The organization has accomplished its goals, past and present, with the help of community members and business owners who have stepped up to support local businesses, Holman added.
At Monday’s meeting, Fred Guarino, of Tiki Recording Studios; City Councilwoman Danielle Fugazy-Scagliola; Matt Nartowicz, of American Community Bank; and John Zozzaro, owner of the Downtown Café, were honored for their dedication to the city’s downtown.
Guarino was recognized for helping the BID continue the popular Downtown Sounds concerts. With his assistance, musical acts performed live for people staying at home, who watched on TV, as well as those eating in downtown restaurants, who watched on screens throughout the area. Everyone at the studio embraced the challenge to help keep the downtown alive, Guarino said.
“When our downtown businesses were clearly being left out of the [Paycheck Protection Program] funding,” Holman said, “Matt Nartowicz, of American Community Bank, came to the rescue for many of [them], helping 38 businesses with the PPP loans and bringing about $1.4 million of funding in our downtown area.”
“My staff who lives here in Glen Cove always says, ‘Once you live in Glen Cove, you never leave,’” Nartowicz said. “I don’t live in Glen Cove, but I’ve worked here for the past 11 years, and I want to thank the Downtown BID and all the businesses that I love to frequent for making me feel at home.”
Fugazy-Scagliola, Holman said, also offered key support to downtown businesses as a liaison between the business community and the City Council. “While helping the families of our community at the Glen Cove High School Food Pantry, she stayed in constant contact with me and many downtown businesses, wanting to help in any way she could,” Holman said. “At first, there wasn’t much one could do but offer moral support, which [Danielle] did.”
As the year went on, Holman said, Fugazy-Scagliola helped advocate for closing School and Glen streets for outdoor dining as well as the funding of festival lights, and helped bring Santa Claus to Village Square for the tree lighting.
“I’ve been a member of the BID for over 20 years now, and I’ve been on the board for about four of them, and I’m really proud to continue it,” Fugazy-Scagliola said. “I’m really in great company. My fellow honorees have worked really hard for the businesses in the downtown.”
Zozzaro, a member of the BID board of directors, was honored for his dedication to helping fellow restaurant owners transform how they served customers when they were ordered by the state to offer only takeout and delivery. He also shared with DeRiggi-Whitton the struggles restaurants like his were facing with third-party delivery service fees.
“We all have to step in and try do our best to make it happen,” Zozzaro said, “to make everything work.