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BID hires new executive director

Uncle Jack's Steakhouse owner William Degel (r.) tells residents why he thinks former Bayside Business Improvement District Executive Director Gregg Sullivan should be reinstated. Photo by Phil Corso
TimesLedger Newspapers

It has been months since some Bell Boulevard business owners said they could remember seeing tangible benefits from their tax dollars at work, courtesy of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District.

And after former Executive Director Gregg Sullivan was fired in December, those Bell Boulevard property owners said they wanted answers.

Sullivan rallied together with residents last week to build support for what he called a healthy change for Bayside.

“I’m prepared to go to war with you,” Sullivan told a crowd of more than 50 Bayside business owners and residents who met April 18 inside All Saints Episcopal Church, at 214-35 40th Ave.

The BID did not send any board members to the meeting, but BID Chairman James Riso said his group wanted to look forward and had chosen a new executive director last week.

In December, Sullivan was let go as executive director of the BID after BID board members said he publicly criticized them on issues such as transparency despite a stipulation added to his contract warning him that further insubordination would result in his termination.

Sullivan, who earned a salary of $30,000, spoke alongside Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse CEO William Degel, who led the charge at last week’s meeting to potentially elect a new board for the BID, which the two said would reinstate Sullivan as executive director.

Degel, whose restaurant lies in the heart of the BID’s jurisdiction along Bell Boulevard, said BID leadership has been silent since Sullivan’s firing.

“Gregg gave life to the BID,” Degel said before the crowd burst into applause. “Since then promises have been made and have not been delivered.”

As executive director, Sullivan oversaw several projects along Bell Boulevard, including high-profile street events, road repaving and street decorating with flags and holiday lights.

In the days following the meeting, Riso said the group had already appointed Lyle Sclair, the former economic development associate at Brooklyn Economic Development Corp., as the new executive director. It was a move that Riso said was taken to put distractions aside for the betterment of Bayside.

“It is unfortunate that there are members of the BID and other individuals who are continually generating negative press about the BID and pointing out its faults,” Riso said. “While it is true and no one is denying that we have faced a huge setback, the all-volunteer board is trying to move forward instead of looking back.”

Riso said one of the major reasons for the setback was the firing of Sullivan, the BID’s “very energetic but insubordinate” executive director.

According to Sullivan, the BID’s naming of a new executive director was just another action to upset taxpayers of the BID.

“The people would be violently opposed to that,” Sullivan said.

No members of the BID were present at the All Saints meeting. Some business owners close to BID board members said they purposely wanted to avoid a public bashing.

“We’re not here to bash anybody,” Sullivan said. “We just want to establish some accountability.”

Javier Lorenzo, part owner of Local Bar and Grill, at 39-24 Bell Blvd., said all he wanted to know was where his money was going.

All property owners within the BID’s jurisdiction pay taxes toward the group and in turn should receive services to enhance the local image and economic experience. According to Degel, no major services have been provided to local business since Sullivan’s termination.

“Gregg raised money for a bunch of different services before he was fired,” Degel said. “The businesses never got those services and now they want their money back.”

Riso said the BID’s budget was $81,368 as of Dec. 31 and the board did everything expected of them and achievable by the budget to date. And according to Sclair, the BID is planning an outdoor arts fair June 9 along 41st Avenue.

Sullivan and Degel said they were working on raising support to elect a new BID board at the group’s annual meeting next month.

“It would make a world of a difference to Bayside if it had the services it deserves,” Sullivan said.

Business owners looking to contact the BID can call 718-423-2434 or email baysidevillagebid@verizon.net.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573

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Reader Feedback

eddie abrams from flushing n.y. says:
Gregg's passion involves everyone in this community and shows what can also be done when communities work together to better their area and their businesses. I can't wait to see what he"s going to do next. Gregg is a very exciting and dynamic person.
April 30, 2012, 9:22 pm
Catherine G from Oakland Gardens says:
I have only recently had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Sullivan and I can honestly say the this man has Bayside running through his veins! He is an honest and sincere man who has the best interest of our community at heart. I am proud to love in Bayside and I know that Mr. Sullivan is too. Let's not be blind and miss the fact that we have someone who genuinely cares about Our Bayside who wants to see it thrive and who is dedicated to making Bayside a beautiful place to live...do we really want to throw that away?
May 1, 2012, 10:57 am
Tom Virgilio from Pete & Sons in Bayside says:
On May 7, 2012, at 10:14 PM, Tom Virgilio wrote:

My name is Thomas Virgilio. I was the past president of the Bayside Chamber of Commerce and I am disgraced at the current infighting now taking place in the Bayside Bid. I was on the board of the Bayside Chamber of Commerce in 1970- 1972 during the 1st street fairs, for 2 years we had 200,000 people on the street and I personally took a lot of uneducated people's nonsense. I feel hurt now when one active bid member does more than any 20 volunteers who only have big mouths at the meetings ...but fail to be active in service when the job needs to be done, all you so called volunteers. I did I put up with a lot of cow cookies during my 2 yr tenor......however, there is a man who deserves a lot of respect ... He does the work of 20 volunteers by himself. Do Baysiders a great service and get behind Gregg Sullivan to be in charge of the Bayside Bid. Please stand behind this man. He does not do it for the money, he does it because he loves Bayside ( he doesn't need the money). He does it from his Heart for the exclusive good of the Bayside community. Yours truly, past president of the original Bayside Chamber of Commerce from 1992 thur 1993 when things got done not because of who had the biggest mouth But because of the majority vote ..it's your community please do what is right ! If you don't show up to vote .then You don,t have a say Yours turly Thomas Virgilio pete@sons
Sent from my iPad 2
May 8, 2012, 1:43 am
Joe DiLeo From 3BROS from Bayside says:
Above and beyond executing the duties he was charged, Gregg has brought intangible qualities to the role of Executive Director. One of those qualities is the ability to inspire others to give to the BID in time, effort and financial support. I am one of those business owners that Gregg inspired.

After years of running a small business on Bell Boulevard with my brothers, I was pessimistic, convinced that Bayside would never achieve the glory it once held and seemed to promise when we set up shop. We watched as Astoria and Forest Hills attracted consumers, press and revenue while Bayside lost foot traffic and potential. I didn't believe things would change anytime soon.

In speaking to Gregg he invited me to take part in the BID. Outside of 3BROS, my career has revolved around ECommerce, managing websites for over 12 years. Gregg inspired me to donate my time to the BID, helping him to set up a Facebook page, Twitter account, blog, make changes to the website and began to layout a marketing plan. All donated services that I did for the betterment of Bayside.

Since Gregg was unfairly relieved of his duties...I have not been approached by anyone in the BID to continue my donated services, no inquiries as to what the BIDs social networking setup was, no activities, no events, no communication at all

I urge everyone to support Gregg, reinstating him as Executive Director of the BID and getting us back on track towards revitalizing Bayside
May 8, 2012, 2:01 pm

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