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Bayside BID criticizes DOT over Bell repave

It was a bit rough going there for a while, but last week the city Department of Transportation paved Bell Boulevard, although the director of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District said the job is still not done.

“There are a couple of spots that collect water near Il Vesuvio and Cinco de Mayo. These puddles are a health menace,” said Gregg Sullivan, the head of the BID.

In addition to the uneven road surface that made driving along that stretch of the boulevard treacherous, Sullivan cited the puddles that collect garbage and stagnant water when he lobbied the DOT to move the project up from its previous schedule for 2013.

“We’re petitioning the DOT; this isn’t finished yet. I told them, ‘Don’t do the lines until you’re finished paving,’” he said.

The department milled the roadway from Northern Boulevard to 35th Avenue a few weeks ago, and in the interim the surface was difficult to navigate and dust would stir up constantly, especially whenever a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus passed by.

“It looked like the Wild West — that was pretty bad,” Sullivan said. “It covered everything with dust.”

Sullivan said the BID’s “prized possessions” — outdoor cafés such as Bell Burgr on the corner of 40th Avenue — suffered the most from the poor conditions while the project was put on hold. A representative said the DOT had to wait while Con Edison installed gas and electric services.

But the BID director did praise the department when it came to scheduling the project during a weekday summer night — when he said business is at its slowest — and added that the actual paving drew crowds to the boulevard.

“People came out to look at it like it was an event. The bars were packed,” he said. “People always say parking is so bad around here, but that night there was not a spot on the street to be had and businesses were packed. It’s almost a good ad for street fairs.”

At the BID’s last meeting in late June, Sullivan said the city would not allow him to close Bell Boulevard for a street fair, so he said he would work to hold a similar event on the side streets.

The DOT was still waiting to pave the milled stretch of roadway on Northern Boulevard from Bell Boulevard to the Cross Island Parkway.

Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece called the department “inefficient” and said the stretch of Northern Boulevard from the Cross Island Parkway to Marathon Parkway is in far worse shape, although a representative told him the DOT ran out of repair funds for CB 11 for the fiscal year.

“They should have prioritized things,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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