As the city's budgets shrinks, the Northland Area Business Association will look to expand its business watch efforts to counteract police department cutbacks in 2009, said NABA President Dave Cooper.

As the city's budgets shrinks, the Northland Area Business Association will look to expand its business watch efforts to counteract police department cutbacks in 2009, said NABA President Dave Cooper.

"Safety and law enforcement are going to be stretched. We've been told that repeatedly," Cooper said.

Because of that, he said NABA will look to recruit more businesses and more volunteers for the Northland Area Business Watch. That group began a year ago to allow businesses to communicate about crime and safety issues in the area.

Another focus for the group in 2009 will be bringing about the conclusion of local efforts to establish a special improvement district on state Route 161.

Recently, Columbus City Council allocated $50,000 to the Northland Alliance so that group could contract with SID Specialist LLC to bring a conclusion to efforts that were halted this summer when funding for the project was lost.

Meetings of the State Route 161 Task Force, which has overseen the process of establishing a special improvement district, will resume later this month, Cooper said, and members will establish a timeline for the work.

NABA, the Northland Alliance and the Northland Community Council want to make sure that the project stays on budget. Though originally projected to cost more, Cooper said those working on the special improvement district are confident that the work can be finished for $50,000.

SID Specialist LLC already has received $65,000 for work done to establish a special improvement district.

"If we can get that passed, it will be a great return on investment," Cooper said.

To establish a special improvement district, a petition must be drawn up and approved by at least 65 percent of property owners within the special improvement district boundaries.

NABA also has begun work on its annual golf outing for 2009.

The golf outing, in its fifth year, serves as NABA's major fundraiser.

This year, Cooper said, the golf outing will be held at York Country Club in Worthington on Aug. 3. Heritage Day Health Centers has been chosen for this year's community partner and will receive 20 percent of the money raised through the outing.

The golf outing will include a ball drop once again, Cooper said. The event was introduced at last year's event.

Also in 2009, NABA will continue to try to recruit new businesses and increase participation, which Cooper said will be especially important in light of the current economy.

"We've just got our work cut out for us with the economy," Cooper said. "We've just got to stick together and help each other as best we can."

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com