By Tom Momberg
The Bayside Village Business Improvement District held its annual meeting Wednesday to get its member businesses moving forward with some short-term solutions to the parking problems on Bell Boulevard and to unveil some major plans for the current fiscal year.
The BID flushed out several strategies to address concerns over the limited parking along Bell Boulevard, using discretionary funding set aside by Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) earlier this year.
Several of the longer-term strategies, such as the construction of a parking garage or reconfiguration of street parking spaces, require planning and implementation by the city Department of Transportation. But BID Executive Director Lyle Sclair said the board members set aside some operating funds as a retainer to serve as a catalyst for businesses to start implementing some more immediate measures.
Discussions began Wednesday night around the possibility of a shared valet parking plan among property and business owners on Bell Boulevard, which would enable restaurants and bars to use other commercial lots outside of regular retail hours. But Sclair said that would have to be done independently because the liability is so great, and many business owners would have to consult their attorneys, landlords and insurance companies to be able to come up with agreements.
“A lot of things can be worked out on our own,” Sclair said. “But we want to help the stakeholders come to these options and consider us a facilitator.”
As for some of the long-term fixes to bring more permanent parking to Bayside businesses, Sclair said the study will give the BID something to point to in its discussions with the DOT, although that may take some time.
“We have been considering a lot of these things for the past two or three years, but now that we got the retainer for the study … we are just getting to the point when we can finally run with it,” Sclair said.
The BID also discussed potential improvements to the Bayside Long Island Rail Road station at its the meeting. It set aside a $50,000 capital budget from grants and membership dues to create more of a public space at the train station. The BID has been working to identify a developer to construct a gazebo and information kiosk to make the open lot next to the station a more communal space by next summer.
Sclair said the BID would also bring back and expand the Weekend Walk program, the September street festival, the Winter Holiday Parade and the spring Sports and Health Festival this year.
“So, looking back at the past seven years, a lot of groundwork has been laid in just setting up a lot of the basic functions of the BID where we’ve really been able to expand many of our programs and leverage a lot of city programs to our benefit,” Sclair said at the meeting.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb