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Morris Park Christmas lights lost Claus

Bronx Times

Morris Park’s been “Scrooged.”

The Morris Park Business Alliance has been forced to pull the plug on the annual Christmas Lights presentation once again after a number of cold-hearted Grinches left it short of the needed cash to put the holiday program together.

Now comes word there won’t be any Christmas lights until further notice.

“I did everything!” declared MPBA leader Bobby Ruggiero, who overhauled the entire collection process for the lights following complaints by local merchants.

“They ask you to start early, we started in January,” said Ruggiero. “They complained they didn’t know who they were giving the money to, so we had only board members collect money.”

Ruggiero was only able to collect $2200 since the beginning of this year. That makes him short $24,000.

“There’s no way I’m going to get $22,000 in six weeks.”

Following reports from The Bronx Times Reporter, several big-chain stores decided to chip in the requested $100, including the local Rite-Aid pharmacy. But Ruggiero is still waiting on that promise.

“There are a lot of chain stores in this community that have come along and take from the Morris Park community and give nothing,” he charged.

Even small business owners shooed Ruggiero away, despite his heartfelt pitch to get the lights up.

“Lights give the community an air of festivity,” said Ruggiero. “It allows locals to shop the commercial corridors.”

But his proposal didn’t work.

Ruggiero blamed several shopkeepers new to the block, saying “The new shopkeepers throw you out like you’re a beggar.”

Further hampering Morris Park’s plight, he added, is the area’s lack of a business improvement district, still dragging along .

He recently turned to Councilman Jimmy Vacca for assistance. Vacca helped create a division at The Bronx Chamber of Commerce to help groups like the MPBA work through the BID application process.

“Without the formation of a business improvement district, I don’t see Christmas Lights ever coming back to Morris Park,” said Ruggiero.

A BID would provide city funds to help spruce up the Morris Park business area.

Joe Regina, who heads the division, said a BID is only as strong as the association that helped start it.

“You need to have a viable organization,” stressed Regina. “That doesn’t happen until all the owners in that district pull together in the same direction.”

Regina promised to help Morris Park get their BID started. But until then, Morris Park will be in the dark.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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