BID Is 'Important Stimulus'

For Old Town's Economy

King Street is undeniably the jewel of Alexandria's retail sector. It draws residents, foreign and domestic tourists, employers and employees who spend money in the shops, galleries and restaurants on King Street and in adjacent areas such as Del Ray and the Eisenhower Corridor.

After attending last week's City Council work session to learn more about the proposed Old Town Business Improvement District (BID), I am convinced that we must move forward with this initiative. I believe the BID could be the most important stimulus for civic improvement I have seen in my many years in business in Old Town.

In the wake of 9/11, the sniper attacks, the anthrax scare, the coldest winter and the wettest spring and Hurricane Isabel, it took more than two years for Alexandria businesses to rebound.

This year, with the tremendous boost provided by outdoor seating, we have reestablished some positive energy. But we cannot afford to lose ground to places like Clarendon and Georgetown, both of which have experienced a tremendous rebirth due, in large part, to BIDs.

For King Street to remain competitive, it needs additional marketing, landscaping, trash collection and maintenance, better parking management and signage. The city has made plain that it cannot allocate any further resources to King Street, and it becomes incumbent upon us, as business owners, to take a chance on the BID. What would be well beyond our resources as individuals I believe we can accomplish collectively through the BID.

I certainly do not want to pay any more taxes, but I also do not want to see King Street lose the vitality and viability that help support Alexandria's economy in so many ways. I support the BID and will work with the steering committee to continue soliciting support from my fellow business owners. It is my belief that they, too, will see the wisdom of this strategy.

Bryan J. Watson

Owner, Bugsy's Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar