Thanks to an effort made by Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz and Madison House Presents, the Forest Hills Stadium concert promoters, there is enough money to fund the lights this year.
Prior to her announcement, Brown notified Koslowitz about the lack of funding, so her office went on a mission to find resources to help the community.
According to Koslowitz, each year Madison House Presents allocates a certain amount of funding for supplemental street cleaning throughout Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.
Last year, however, they overestimated the service costs and ended up with a $9,100 surplus. Madison House Presents decided to donate that money to the lights after Koslowitz reached out and asked them for assistance.
Only the number of lights that can be funded for $9,100 will be strung up. Brown said the chamber will regroup in January about 2018’s holiday lights.
“The Forest Hills Chamber and the entire Forest Hills community sends out a big thank you to council member Koslowitz and Madison House Presents for stepping forward and sponsoring the holiday light program,” Brown said.
The good news was welcomed by Forest Hills residents, many of whom spent days debating on social media about who was at fault for the lack of lights, the chamber or the business owners.
Brown claimed that due to a lack of support from local businesses over recent years, and the recent withdrawal of funding from a property owner, the chamber could not afford its new two-year, $32,000 contract for holiday lights.
A few owners were not interested in helping because they have not seen benefits to their businesses.
Other businesses claimed they weren’t contacted by the chamber regarding the lights, but Brown argued that the flyers must’ve slipped through the cracks as “a lot of times when we hand out the flyers, it doesn’t even reach the business owners.”
While the community is relieved to have the holiday lights back, some residents suggested that local businesses should also dress their windows to display more holiday spirit.
In recent years, Grand Street shopkeepers in East Williamsburg have created window displays as part of an annual holiday event by the Grant Street BID. The shopkeepers collaborate with local high school teams to design the windows and the winning team receives small prize money.
As for the red-and-white banners the chamber planned on putting up as an alternative to the lights, Brown said they’re not necessary anymore. The chamber, however, will be hanging their Celebrate Winter banners this week in anticipation of the Celebrate Winter event on November 27.