Almost twenty years ago, in response to both community concerns about the need for a more vibrant business climate on Lakeshore Avenue and lobbying from the now defunct Greater Mandana Action Committee, of which our church was a part, the Lakeshore Avenue Business Improvement District was formed. The commercial property owners on Lakeshore and Lake Park Avenues agreed to pay an annual assessment that would be used to address some of the major needs of the business district such as security, cleaning, marketing and communication. A board, made up of some the leading property owners, was formed and I was asked to join as a non-voting community representative. The LABID board met in the Church Library and its major meetings were held in the Family Room.
A few years ago, seeing the importance of the LABID to the neighborhood and wanting to have a more significant voice on the board, I suggested that the church be assessed a “non-profit” rate of $500 per year for each of our two parcels of land making us official members of the BID, clearing the way for us to have a vote on the board of directors and making it possible for us to utilize some of the services (most notably security and marketing) provided by the LABID. My suggestion was accepted, and I became a voting member of the board. This change coincided with our partnership with the BID and local merchants in the sponsorship of the community Halloween and Easter festivals.
On Tuesday, August 7th, after a year of some changes and turmoil, I was unanimously elected President of Board of Directors of the Lakeshore Avenue Business Improvement District. In that I am a localist, one committed to thinking globally while acting locally, who sees a direct correlation between the health of the business district and the health of our congregation, a direct connection to the well-being of the commercial area and the well-being of the residential area, I am honored to assume this responsibility. In that I am a pastor rather than a real-estate mogul, I find it rather ironic to be asked to step into this role. Surely there is an MBA out there better suited for the job than I.
If I have concerns beyond the time demands of adding another leadership role to my calendar, it is the well documented NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) of entities like the LABID and propensity of commercial interests to pursue profit at the expense of justice and community well-being. Thus, I have a difficult role to negotiate. I need to help lead a business district that is at once vibrant, prosperous and humane. Your prayers and insights are needed and appreciated. If you would like to participate in the LABID deliberations, the next board meeting will be Wednesday, September 5th, at 1:00 in the Church Library. It is time to start planning for Halloween.
FYI – I am happy to announce the hiring of Carol Knight (former owner of Silver Lining Jewelry) and Kira Pascoe (an expert in electronic and social media) as the Co-Directors of the LABID. I look forward to you getting to know them.