2005-04-22 / Community

Small Business Commissioner Tours F.R. Business District

By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

By Miriam Rosenberg
Contributing Editor

Councilman Sanders and RDRC’s Archer listen as Commissioner Walsh explains how the community and his office need to work together.Councilman Sanders and RDRC’s Archer listen as Commissioner Walsh explains how the community and his office need to work together.

  • New York City Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh took a walking tour of the Far Rockaway business district on April 6. The tour was arranged by City Councilman James Sanders, Jr. to get the commissioner’s ideas about improving the area.
  • As Walsh walked down Beach 22 Street to the Far Rockaway Mall, he spoke with storeowners and their representatives. He also took note of the problems and possibilities in the area.

    Walsh listens as Daisy Johnson tells him about the parking problems in the area.Walsh listens as Daisy Johnson tells him about the parking problems in the area. “Walking along and looking at the storefronts gave me flashbacks to between 1987 and 1989 when I took charge of a small [neighborhood] development corporation at.

    14th and Union,” Walsh said at a working lunch after the walkthrough. “We tackled many problems block by block. We put people around the table on a regular basis.”

    Walsh talked about the great architecture, the engaged business owners and the opportunities to turn things around. Some of the areas of special interest were the common walkway on Beach 22nd Street and the Far Rockaway Mall.

    Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh takes notes as he surveys the Far Rockaway Shopping Center. RDRC Executive Director Curtis Archer and Councilman James Sanders, Jr. explained to Walsh the history of the shopping center.Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh takes notes as he surveys the Far Rockaway Shopping Center. RDRC Executive Director Curtis Archer and Councilman James Sanders, Jr. explained to Walsh the history of the shopping center. While plans have already been proposed for a park in place of the Beach 22 Street walkway, Walsh had a different suggestion.

    “Perhaps try a green grocer with an open air market,” Walsh suggested. “Keep the quality high. It brings people to the area.

    Business owner La’Vida Jervis and Councilman Sanders show Walsh the drawing showing the proposal for a park in the common walkway on Beach 22nd Street. Walsh suggested that the area be turned into an open-air market. He suggested that the community get the Parks Department involved in designing the area.Business owner La’Vida Jervis and Councilman Sanders show Walsh the drawing showing the proposal for a park in the common walkway on Beach 22nd Street. Walsh suggested that the area be turned into an open-air market. He suggested that the community get the Parks Department involved in designing the area. “A farmer’s market, combined with the energy [of the business owners] turned things around at 14th and, Union. It can help in a number of ways.”

    Walsh also surveyed the Far Rockaway Mall.

    Curtis Archer (executive director of RDRC) told Walsh the mall could handle 350,000 square feet of retail space. Yet, the almost empty mall is losing $20 to $25 million to the Five Towns.

    Business owner La’Vida Jervis, Councilman Sanders, RDRC’s Archer, Walsh and Joanie Omeste of the Chamber of Commerce walk down Beach 22nd Street during the walking tour of Far Rockaway’s business district.Business owner La’Vida Jervis, Councilman Sanders, RDRC’s Archer, Walsh and Joanie Omeste of the Chamber of Commerce walk down Beach 22nd Street during the walking tour of Far Rockaway’s business district. “The intersection is terrific,” Walsh commented, as he added that the area is a healthy one.

    Walsh told the business leaders to look at the different areas in the district and set up a physical plan for development.

    “You need to break it down block by block,” Walsh said.

    Henrietta of Melodrama Books and Things asks Walsh’s help with a pothole in front of the store. He told her to call 311 and get in touch with him if it isn’t fixed in a week.Henrietta of Melodrama Books and Things asks Walsh’s help with a pothole in front of the store. He told her to call 311 and get in touch with him if it isn’t fixed in a week. “I’m going to find someone on a short-term basis to help you,” he continued. “What you need is a layout of opportunities – a demonstration of four blocks.”

    He said he would help get other agencies, such as the commissioner of housing, out to see the area. Walsh also promised to set up a business assistance office with counselors to help businesses expand and get capital, and he would like to see job training and job development in Far Rockaway.

    In front of Kings and Queens Nail salon, Archer calls Walsh’s attention to the upper floors of the buildings across the street.In front of Kings and Queens Nail salon, Archer calls Walsh’s attention to the upper floors of the buildings across the street. Other areas of concern brought up by business owners such as La’Vida Jervis (Bridal Creations by La’Vida; REMA), Daisy Johnson (Miss D’s Playgroup) and Joanie Omeste (Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce) included parking, safety and dirty streets.

    “We have a municipal parking lot and it could bring money to town,” said Johnson. “It’s a shame. It’s a big lot, and it is filthy.”

    The commissioner believes his office and the community working together could revitalize the area.

    “Let’s see what we can do,” Walsh told those at the lunch. “We can get the graffiti truck out here [to clean], call 311 for broken streetlights and potholes, and the Doe Fund [to clean the streets] will make a difference.

    We can also get Commissioner Donovan (of Housing) out here. If it is clean, safe and we add a market it will fall into place.”

    After the meeting, Sanders spoke with Omeste about starting work on revitalization.

    “Within seven to ten days we need to move to decide a zone,” Sanders told Omeste about the first blocks to be targeted for redevelopment.

    Omeste, Archer, Jervis and other business owners joined Sanders and Walsh on the walking tour and working lunch.

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