New BID prez talks big plans for downtown

Barbaraellen Koch photo
Ray Pickersgill, president of the Business Improvement District Management Association, says the BID has big plans for downtown Riverhead.

Ray Pickersgill brought his business savvy to downtown Riverhead in 2005 when he opened Robert James Salon on East Main Street.

The salon is regularly abuzz with clients — no small feat considering it counts several vacant buildings as neighbors.

Soon after arriving here with his two partners — his wife, Margaret, and daughter, Lisa — Mr. Pickersgill got involved with revitalization efforts in Riverhead and elsewhere in Suffolk.

He holds a seat on the county’s downtown revitalization committee, which administers grants to downtowns and villages, and on March 15 was elected president of the Business Improvement District management association, which handles the taxing district’s finances. The tax money, collected from area businesses, is used for events and promotions, all aimed at bringing foot traffic downtown.

Mr. Picksersgill talked with the News-Review recently about his new role as BID president.

Q: What does your job entail?

A:Bringing ideas to the board and screening ideas and trying to plan events and capital improvement projects for Main Street.

Q: Is it a challenge to run a business and do all that at the same time?

A:Lately, yes, because I’m at every meeting you could think of. It’s a lot of work, I can tell you that. But we need improvement on Main Street. We have a great board now, and it was time.

Q: How has the BID here compared to those in other towns?

A:The other ones were performing better. But we’re going in the right direction. Bay Shore, Port Jefferson, Patchogue all have great BIDs. They do a lot of capital improvement projects. And all of them have a rather ambitious calendar of events, too.

Q: What are some of the projects slated for this year that you’re most excited about?

A:We’re looking forward to improvements on the waterfront, including chess and checker tables and swing sets, which will bring more families down. We’d like to replace the big trees on Main Street with non-flowering pear trees because the big trees tear up the sidewalks. New garbage receptacles.

Q: And the events?

A:Oh yeah, I love the car show and oldies concert that we’re going to do. The cardboard boat race, the country western show. The antique show is going to be a blow-away sight; how many people watch “Antiques Roadshow” and want to do something like that? It seems everyone has an antique hidden away and they think it’s worth millions.

Q: Where do you see the BID in five years?

A: I see us doing these events we’re doing now but in their five-year anniversary, and running even better. They’re like a wine; they get better with age.

That, and a full downtown.

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