NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Northampton Business Improvement District, or “BID” as it’s known, was created five years ago with a mission of creating a vibrant and clean downtown.
However, on Wednesday a judge ruled that Northampton’s Business Improvement District was not validly established when signatures were collected five years ago. They were forced to shut down immediately.
“We’ve been working really hard a downtown Northampton is an incredible place to work and it’s an incredible place to live and I’m proud of the work that we’ve done and I’m disappointed that we’re not going to be able to continue that,” said Natasha Yakovlev, the Executive Director of the Northampton Business Improvement District.
As a result, four employees are losing their jobs and dozens of downtown businesses, who paid an annual fee to the BID, are losing services.
“Wait until they see the street, all piled up with cigarette butts and everything. A lot of them were really hard working guys and now they’re out of work I’ve been told, they’ve been laid off. We are all going to miss them, especially in the Winter,” said Valerie Wilder, the Owner of Everything Optical.
BID workers cleaned the sidewalks of snow, leaves and cigarettes. They beautified the downtown with planters and holiday lighting and organized annual events like the recent Downtown Trick or Treat, and the popular Sidewalk Sales and Restaurant Week. The Business Improvement District was also responsible for the fireworks display for the city’s First Night celebration.
One Northampton worker told 22News he’s like to see city government step in the keep the BID, even if that means residents having to pay. “Personally I’d love to see maybe a small assessment to all the residents of Northampton, everyone who uses the downtown services because it’s a losing situation,” said Ted Pennock, who works in Northampton.
The BID’s executive director told 22News they are still reviewing the judge’s order and talking with their attorneys. The lawsuit that shut down the BID was filed by Alan Sheinman and several property entities owned by Northampton businessman Eric Suher.