As local business owners expressed enthusiasm but also some concerns, the Gettysburg Borough Council unanimously voted on Monday night to reauthorize the Steinwehr Avenue Heart of Gettysburg Battlefield Business Improvement District (SABID) through 2028.
Main Street Gettysburg Executive Officer Jill Sellers said the first seven years of the public-private partnership had involved 70 local businesses and been highly successful. Sellers said the project had raised $6M to revitalize the area by improving the look and feel of the area to benefit tourism.
“The plan is quite honestly the envy of many other business improvement districts because of the way it was executed,” said Sellers. The plan “works with existing businesses and under-utilized properties to increase pedestrian safety and traffic mobility. We’ve branded ourselves as a destination.”
“In times of economic distress this type of revitalization is imperative. Those partnerships are long-term investments that are worth what you spend on them,” said Sellers.
“It’s been great for the street. Everything we’ve done has helped improve Gettysburg,” said Nathan Mares, General Manager at Best Western Gettysburg and President of the SABID. “It is the place where everyone wants to be.”
“I can attest from my experience what tourism was like from before the project to afterwards,” said Dobbin House Managing Director Jacqueline White. “There are definitely more people on the street now than there were before because it’s more of a friendly place to be. I look at it as one of the best values of marketing that I can possibly do. It has improved the community.”
White said she distributed “tons” of SABID flyers to customers. “People are sitting in chairs people watching. We all work together. I look at the bid as a real benefit to the community,” she said.
John Fine from the Lincoln Train Museum was not in favor of the renewal. “Taxes can destroy. Taxes are quite heavy here. What has been happening is the establishment of a bureaucracy that should not have been established in the first place,” he said. Fine said many business owners were tired of paying taxes and he questioned the cost of the program. Fine said no one had ever taken a SABID flyer that he had on display at his business and questioned the money spent on decorating the local streets with flowers. “Does anyone really care?” he asked.