Residents near the Bay Terrace Shopping Center gathered Tuesday night for a meeting with Bay Bridge Exxon owner Pat Perrotta to find solutions for what they described as noise and quality-of-life problems.
Community activist Phil Konigsberg, who lives in the Bay Country co-op across the street from the Exxon station/convenience store at 23-40 Bell Blvd., said in the past two or three years he has only wanted to improve the immediate area. Konigsberg is also a member of Community Board 7 and vice president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance.
"I would not say they are bad neighbors," Konigsberg said in an interview Monday. "He has certainly been willing to work with us. But I still think there's some room for improvement."
Owner Pat Perrotta and manager Litsa Douris said they have gone out of their way to respond to the community's complaints over the last several years and to beautify the area.
Pointing to long stretches of brightly colored flowers, two decorative ponds in the corners of the parking lot, and signs asking customers to keep their radios down, Douris said "he pays for this out of his own pocket. What are we doing wrong?"
About 14 people met outside the station at the corner of Bell Boulevard and 23rd Avenue at the Tuesday night meeting. Specific complaints included: cars parking on the curb in front of the station; loud radios; loud customers; teens who loiter on the property, especially in the summer; and loud gas deliveries in the early morning and nighttime hours.
Douris and Perrotta, who is the independent owner of the station, said they have gone a long way toward addressing the community's complaints.
Signs hang from the gas pumps telling customers to be quiet. Gas deliveries have been restricted to daytime hours. Employees have been instructed to call Cord Meyer's security division, which is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cord Meyer owns the mall and the Exxon lot.
They have also begun curbing off the wide sidewalk in front of the Exxon station to prevent customers from parking there, Douris said.
Addressing the traffic, Douris said, "It is really not our responsibility, but we are trying to control it."
Douris and Perrotta pointed out that it is dangerous for their employees to become involved with customers directly. Douris said she was recently cursed at when she asked a customer not to park on the curb.
She also said the station added parking spots in its lot to encourage customers to park there instead of at the curb. Several of those cars swept through the parking lot during the meeting.
Michael Mckuhan, a manager for Cord Meyer security, said his staff regularly monitors the station and has not received many complaints. He urged those in attendance to call the Cord Meyer security force themselves and gave out a number for people to call.
Perrotta has worked at the station since 1989 and has owned it since 1992. The station has been at the site since 1958.
While Konigsberg and the other Bay Terrace residents agreed the noise has gotten better since Perrotta took over, some thought more needed to be done.
"Nobody can solve this," said Jack Fogel, who lives on the second floor at Bay Country. "The only way to do that is to shut this place down at night."
When Douris told him that may damage Exxon's business, Fogel said "then how are you going to cure it?"
When Fogel described loud customers as "animals," Mckuhan stepped forward.
He said his staff had given extra attention to the area for the past four weekends, "and we have not gotten what you call animals. None whatsoever."
Later, Fogel acknowledged that blaring radios and loud customers were not Perrotta's responsibility.
As the two sides continued to talk, Konigsberg said none of the residents wanted to close the station down.
"Absolutely not," he said when the subject was raised. "It has never been my intention. You're a business man, we live here. We're neighbors."
©2000 Community News Group
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