Topping the wish list for the leadership of the Sunset Park Business Improvement District (BID) is the replacement of ugly metal gates along the strip.
BID representatives discussed the 21-year-old organization’s progress over the past year and what it hopes to improve over time during the group’s 21st annual meeting on Thursday, June 21 at the Young Dancers in Repertory Studio, 5602 Fifth Avenue.
Although the meeting focused on the BID’s accomplishments, plans for how the area could improve led off the meeting. At the forefront of the agenda was a campaign to eliminate metal gates at stores along Fifth Avenue and replace them with storefront glass.
Attorney and BID member Delvis Valdes, who has a property on Third Avenue underneath the Gowanus, is a huge proponent of the proposal. “It’s dark and desolate over there at nighttime,” he said. “We have a business whose owner took it upon himself to remove the gates. They installed a brand new storefront glass from top to bottom with automatic doors.”
He added that he wants to see similar improvements made along Fifth Avenue. “I implore our store and property owners to talk to the merchants ,” he said. “This avenue has come a long way. Now is the time to remove those shutter gates. It’s more inviting and open to the neighborhood. It tells the neighborhood, ‘I’m not afraid of you. I’m not scared of you.’ Now is the time to remove the gates.”
Renee Giordano, executive director of the BID agreed. “We’re hoping that within the next year, we will continue to build on all the successes and create new events,” she said. We always try to have something innovative and new. One of those things could be getting rid of the gates. I would love to get rid of them.”
“I’ve been a resident for 73 years right here in Sunset Park,” said board member Henry Irving. “I’ve been talking to a lot of store owners, asking them if they would give up their gates. You’d have all this light going onto the avenue. There’s no more robberies and stuff like that anymore. “
When reviewing the BID’s achievements over the past year, Giordano mentioned its new smartphone app. “Many of the businesses are taking part in it and offering promotions which pop up on the app so people know about them,” she said. “We also have other features with events happening. We want you not only to download it but to use it and it seems to be working so far.”
The BID also mentioned the free wi-fi it’s made available along Fifth Avenue, the second Puerto Rican Day Festival, and the first annual Cinco de Mayo Parade. “We’ve always embraced all different nationalities, so we’re finally getting into being able to raise some celebrations and teach each other what everybody else is about,” said Giordano.
Awards were also given out to businesses, property owners and local Sunset Park reporters.
“We are seeing the evolution of the avenue from way back when to today and we see how much better it has become,” said BID President Llamil Nunez.