Yonkers activist takes downtown BID reins
By MICHAEL GANNON
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: February 18, 2007)
YONKERS - Steve Sansone, a longtime community activist who has often been at odds with city officials over development and other issues, is taking over the reins of the city's Downtown Waterfront Business Improvement District.
Sansone, who was one of the most outspoken critics of the $600 million Ridge Hill Village proposal in east Yonkers, beat four other finalists because of his knowledge and enthusiasm for the city, said BID Chairman John Kolenda. BID officials did consider Sansone's onetime adversarial relationship with city officials, but decided it was not a problem, Kolenda said.
"He's passionate about Yonkers," said Kolenda, a Yonkers-based developer. "Like many citizens, he doesn't always agree with what the government does."
Sansone said he has always believed in breathing new life into downtown, recalling shopping there in his youth. New restaurants and businesses have begun to spring up, particularly along Main Street, and more are expected with several billion dollars of residential and commercial development in the pipeline.
"This is probably the best-kept secret in the tri-state area," Sansone said of the downtown. "It's my job to get the secret out."
And Sansone has, in fact, mended his relationship with Mayor Phil Amicone's administration. Last year, he was awarded a $25,000 city contract to head up the city's annual Riverfest celebration. He will make more than $80,000 in his new job as BID director, Kolenda said.
Sansone replaces former BID director Ronald Law, who had previously worked in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's administration. Law, who came to Yonkers two years ago, resigned in mid-December, Kolenda said.
Homes for America Holdings also is pursuing a $900 million plan for new housing on the waterfront west of Alexander Street.
The five-year-old BID, which levies taxes on top of regular city taxes on business owners within the district to pay for services like trash collection and security cameras, is one of two in the city. The South Broadway Business Improvement District runs a little over a mile north of the Bronx border.
Sansone, 48, is a Yonkers native and lifelong resident. He worked for 25 years in the New York State Attorney General's Division of Public Advocacy. He also is active in several cultural organizations and events in Yonkers, including the Untermyer Performing Arts Council, the First Precinct Council*and the Puerto Rican Day parade.
He also is on the board of the Westchester County Arts Council.
Reach Michael Gannon at email@example.com or 914-694-5080.
*The JN incorrectly listed the Fourth Precinct Council