By Mark Hallum
City Comptroller Scott Stringer toured Bell Boulevard with neighborhood leadership Tuesday and spoke with business owners about commerce along Bayside’s main drag.
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Bayside Village Business Improvement District Director Christine Silletti strolled with Stringer as he talked with some of the mainstays in the community.
Vallone said he was hopeful that Stringer’s office could help him and the BID take over the parking lot at 41st Avenue and add levels to it. He also said he would like to see the comptroller help businesses ward off inspectors who are looking to issue violations for small infractions that could potentially kill a “thriving” business.
“The success of Bell has led to the College Point Merchants Association, the Whitestone Merchants Association, the Douglaston LDC. Those all came from seeing the formula of [BID Chair Dominick Bruccoleri] and the BID. If they don’t get the support, then we lose them, so that’s what the next four years will probably be about.”
Vallone recently emerged victorious in last week’s Democratic primary election, beating back a 2013 opponent in land-use expert Paul Graziano. Vallone will face Graziano again in the general election.
Bob Mittman, the owner of an optometry office near 38th Avenue and Bell, told Stringer he was disturbed by TV production companies setting up shop for days at a time and interfering with business. He also mentioned an incident where the Department of Buildings issued citations to business owners around 43rd Avenue and Bell Boulevard who had sign violations for electrical work set up by developers of the properties they were leasing decades ago.
“They gave a $5,000 violation to each of the store owners. They’re all immigrants, they’re all small business owners and on top of that made them remove the signs and put up new ones,” Mittman said. “They’re at the first floor of a condominium and the developer put signs up in front of each of the stores as part of the sale of condos. Three weeks ago they show up and write a $5,000 violation saying it’s not registered.”
Mittman said the financial burden on the business owners for the electrical work was misplaced and damaged commerce on the boulevard. While the optometrist was clearly frustrated, he walked away from his discussion with Stringer feeling positive about the encounter and expressed future support for the comptroller.
Stringer visited Sterling Pharmacy, Massage Envy, J&J Barbershop, and Maria’s Mediterranean Seafood and Grill.
Stringer did not stay around long. He only toured about a block of Bell Boulevard before leaving.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall