By Rebecca Henely
City Comptroller John Liu received an enthusiastic reception from Jackson Heights business owners when he visited the Indian and Bangladeshi commercial strips in the neighborhood last Thursday.
Liu was joined by state Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights), City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and a group of business owners as he walked into sari shops and Bangladeshi eateries on 73rd and 74th streets between 37th Avenue and 37th Road. He said he came to speak to businesses about their concerns and see what the city could do to help them.
“We need you to succeed here in New York City and it is my mission to make sure that that happens,” Liu told the business owners.
Although he said he spent a lot of time in the neighborhood when he was growing up, this was Liu’s second visit to the strips in an official capacity. He said he was glad to see many of the businesses that he saw on his first trip were still thriving.
“He’s very nice, a very nice guy,” said a woman who gave her name as Kiran and who works in a jewelry store on 74th Street. “It’s nice of him to stop by.”
Some concerns business owners brought up to Liu were the high rents coupled with lack of services.
Mohammad Pier, president of the Jackson Heights Bangladeshi Business Association, said the merchants want the city to help in making the city more colorful and vibrant.
“We call it the second Bangladesh here in America,” Pier said of Jackson Heights.
Liu said some problems he thought warranted consideration were fixing a broken sidewalk, additional parking in the area, getting rid of ticket blitzes and providing sanitation services now that money for the Doe Fund, which cleans streets, has been reduced.
“We need to support our local businesses,” Liu said. He said these small businesses would generate jobs for the city.
Dromm said Liu knows how important the South Asian community is to the city of New York.
“This district is probably the most diverse district in the world,” the councilman said.
Moya said he visited because elected officials need to add support to area businesses as well.
“To see firsthand what the issues are in the community,” Moya said.
For Liu’s visit, civic activist Mohammad Rashid said he had arranged volunteers to clean the streets of Jackson Heights for free. Local Imam Mohd Qayyoom also gave Liu a framed invitation to an Eid prayer event he is holding at IS 145, at 33-34 80th St. in Jackson Heights, at the end of this month.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.