Christine Silletti, who recently took over as executive director of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District (Bayside Village BID), said she has been struck most by the neighborhood’s sense of camaraderie in her first few months at her post.
“I really love the neighborhood,” said Silletti, who began in April. “Everyone knows everyone here, everyone’s very open and very supportive … I feel like that’s part of what keeps a commercial corridor strong, and a strong commercial corridor also helps keep the neighborhood healthy and strong.”
The Bayside BID supports the dozens of businesses along the bustling Bell Boulevard corridor between Northern Boulevard and 35th Avenue, as well as 41st Avenue from 213th Street to 214th Place. The group works to promote local business through marketing efforts, community events and support services, including helping owners navigate through the often-confusing world of city permitting and regulations — a skill Silletti has come to champion.
The executive director has years of experience in business outreach, spending time with nonprofit groups as well as the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) working to provide services to businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.
“I have a real passion for small business,” Silletti said. “I think I always have.”
For Silletti, the greatest goal is to create a positive environment throughout the commercial corridor. Through community events, the BID works to bring businesses and local residents together in a fun, laid-back setting.
Later this month, Bell Boulevard between 39th and 41st Avenues will be closed to vehicular traffic for the BID’s annual Sunday Stroll. The free Sept. 24 event will run from noon until 5 p.m. and will allow families to wander up and down the corridor and take in a diverse set of live music, food, games, activities and giveaways.
Silletti hopes to tackle a number of short and long-term goals in the coming months and years, including streetscaping and parking improvements. Most immediately — and thanks to fiscal support from Assemblyman Edward Braunstein — the executive director was happy to report that the greenery adjacent to the Bayside LIRR station at 41st Avenue is scheduled to undergo a facelift.
Plans for the area will be left largely up to the community, she said, but creating accessibility and user-friendliness at the site will be a priority.
Residents can offer their input at an upcoming community meeting this fall. Further details will be announced at a later time.
“I think the strength are the people here,” Silletti said. “I meet so many people who have been born and raised here, or may have moved away but then moved back. That speaks to a real strength and love of the neighborhood.”