Today’s news:

Bayside Business Association takes over LIRR building

The Bayside Business Association has arranged to renovate and lease a long-vacant Bell Boulevard building from the Long Island Rail Road to serve as the group’s new headquarters and possibly a Bayside information center, the group’s president said.

The tiny, two-story, red-brick LIRR freight building has stood empty and unused on the corner of Bell Boulevard and 41st Road for decades.

Bayside Business Association President Judy Limpert said last week the planned renovation, funded by her organization, was expected to take four to six months, but she did not specify how much money the group would put into the building.

“I’m very excited about it,” Limpert said in a telephone interview last week. “People can go there and see what’s going on in Bayside.”

The LIRR did not return calls for comment.

The Bayside Business Association, or BBA, now holds a 10-year lease on the property as well as an option for 10 years after that, Limpert said. The building will be renovated and maintained through BBA funding alone, Limpert said.

“Getting that building was just the icing on the cake,” she said. “We have a home.”

When asked whether or not the BBA, a five-year-old group that often seems stretched for cash, had the coffers to refurbish the space and put a headquarters in place, Limpert said “we’ll find ways to do it.”

In March the BBA committed $30,000 a year to hiring a cleaning company, Atlantic Maintenance, to pick up litter along Bell Boulevard four days a week to improve the area’s appearance. At the time, Limpert said the group would pay for the service “as long as possible” before asking area merchants or elected officials to pitch in.

Using $500,000 appropriated by state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) in August 2000, the BBA has also been spearheading a plan to renovate Bell Boulevard from Northern Boulevard to 35th Avenue. The plan calls for new lighting fixtures, resculpted sidewalks and diagonal parking on Bell Boulevard as well as benches and plantings.

At the same time, the business association is funding a study to create a Business Improvement District, or BID, in the Bayside area. If successful, the BID would fund itself through new taxes and would pay for the services of Atlantic Maintenance.

The renovation of the building will include refurbishing the interior, which includes wood ceilings, and slabbing over an elevator shaft, Limpert said, which goes down to the railroad tracks.

“We’re not using the elevator — it’s too much money to fix,” she said.

At least one neighboring merchant was happy about the proposed BBA headquarters.

Bob Ritacco, co-owner of First Edition restaurant on Bell Boulevard, said he was pleased the building would now be maintained.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Ritacco, who said the ownership of First Edition spearheaded an effort to save the building from disrepair several years ago.

“It was a real eyesore before. It was just a matter of time before the building became an eyesore again,” he said. “I think it’s great if the Bayside Business Association comes in. At least we’ll know the building will be kept in decent shape.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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