Biz association cancels street fair plans

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Anticipating a community battle, the Bayside Business Association has canceled plans to hold a Bell Boulevard street fair in May to raise money for its beautification of Bayside’s “Main Street.”

Plans for a “Family Appreciation Day,” to be held May 26, were in the earliest stages. The business association had filed an application with the Mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office last month seeking a permit for the proposed event. The application would most likely have been considered by Community Board 11 for a public hearing in March.

After outlining the group’s goals for a Bayside street fair in a telephone interview with the TimesLedger Friday, Bayside Business Association co-president Judy Limpert said Monday the BBA had reversed its decision to seek permission for the event.

“We’re pulling the whole thing,” she said, citing a lack of support for the idea within the business association. “I’m not going to fight the whole community on this thing.”

The Bayside Business Association last tried to organize a street fair-type of event for Bell Boulevard in 1998, advocating an alcohol-free, family-oriented day to highlight the community and bring shoppers to the thoroughfare. Its latest proposal featured the same family-friendly activities, but the 2002 street fair would have raised funds for the business association’s proposed Business Improvement District and beautification of Bell Boulevard from Northern Boulevard to 35th Avenue.

Some community leaders soured on street fairs for Bell Boulevard after a 1995 festival, which they contend became overcrowded and loud as rowdy, alcohol-drinking patrons spilled out into neighborhood streets, leaving garbage and property damage in their wake. Since then attempts to hold street fairs on Bell Boulevard have been rejected by Community Board 11 and civic leaders.

Limpert said the business association had hired Clearview Festivals, a company well-known throughout Queens for its street fairs, to organize the May 26 event. Last week, before the group decided to forgo its plans, Limpert said the business association just wanted to help the community.

“Nobody wants what happened before, especially me,” Limpert said Friday, referring to past street fairs. “We want to have a nice day — we want the restaurants on Bell to be showcased, the businesses on Bell to be showcased and the community of Bayside to be showcased.”

When the BBA attempted to get permission for a street fair in 1998, Limpert said the group had the support of more than 600 local residents. At that time, the BBA was less than a year old and was denied permits for a similar “Family Appreciation Day” by the mayor’s office, which said the group was too new to organize such an event.

The business association was in the process of getting petition forms to its members this week, urging them to get community support for the “Family Appreciation Day” before it pulled the plug.

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

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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