By Helen Klein
Merchants along 86th Street are eagerly looking forward to the completion of the protracted construction project along the thoroughfare.
At the annual meeting of the strip’s Business Improvement District, which was held at Chadwick’s, 8822 Third Avenue, store owners spoke with anticipation about the expected completion of the $26.8 million project -- which involved the replacement of water and sewer mains along the strip between Shore Road and Gatling Place in Bay Ridge -- sometime next month.
“This year, we were weak on marketing activities due to the reconstruction,” explained Steve Petros, the BID’s vice president. “As soon as the reconstruction is over, we will get more actively involved in projects for 86th Street. Let the traffic start flowing again.”
A representative of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) confirmed that the contractor will be off the street by the end of July. “It’s scheduled to be over July 24th,” said Michael Melamed, the project coordinator for the BID for SBS. Melamed told the group, “You managed very well under difficult circumstances.”
“Thank you for your perseverance,” added City Councilmember Vincent Gentile, who told the merchants that the commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), which is overseeing the project, had promised to see if some of the equipment now stored on the street, and taking up parking spaces, could be moved.
“The good news is that we’re closer to the end of it than the beginning of it,” added Pat Condren, the BID’s executive director.
The other good news, said Gentile, is that, once the project is completed, such construction will not be necessary again for a long time. “The commissioner said to me, ‘We’ll see you in 100 years,” Gentile reported.
There was other welcome news for the merchants. Police Officer Paul Montana, from who patrols the strip for the 68th Precinct, reported that “crime overall on 86th Street is way down.” A couple of weeks before the meeting, Montana said, he had “locked up some shoplifters. They thought I wasn’t around. But, I followed them in and out of stores and drove them nuts for a day, and I waited for them to strike.”
At one point, there was discussion as to whether the opening of the new parking garage behind Century 21 had alleviated the area’s parking problems. With construction still going on along 86th Street, “It’s hard to tell,” said John Logue, the BID’s president.
“It’s 300 parking spaces, so it has to help,” he added.