There’s a lack of parking on Bell Boulevard and one group is trying to solve that problem.
The Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID), which supports hundreds of businesses along Bell Boulevard between Northern Boulevard and 35th Avenue, is launching a major project that will take at least half a decade to complete and require participation from various city organizations and local community members.
The main focus will be on alleviating the high demand for parking on Bell Boulevard, Bayside’s commercial area. The project is something that Lyle Sclair, the BID’s executive director, has wanted to start since at least last year.
“We’re kicking the project into high gear,” he said. “Parking has always been an issue on Bell. It’s a desirable destination to come to.”
With community support, the long-term goal will be the conversion of a city-owned lot on the corner of 41st Avenue and 214th Place into a multilevel parking garage. City Councilman Paul Vallone provided $20,000 last year for the conversion and since then Sclair has expanded the project’s goals.
The first phase of the project will begin this Thursday when Sclair will send people out on the streets to count the amount of parking spots available along the boulevard and to identify areas that have the most congestion.
“Bayside has both commuter and residential parking, and we want to see how they interact with each other to make parking a problem in the neighborhood,” Sclair said.
For now, the initiative is being funded through a $20,000 grant provided by Vallone, but Sclair plans to eventually get the city to fund a major project that will increase the supply of parking. And a firm, VHB, has been hired to put plans together.
The firm will look at other communities in Long Island that have solved their parking problems, since the layout of those areas resembles that of Bayside more than most New York City neighborhoods that have access to trains.
“It is no secret that the popularity of this commercial hub makes parking difficult for those commuting via the Long Island Rail Road and customers frequenting stores,” Vallone said last year. “Potentially expanding the municipal parking lot on 41st Avenue could greatly alleviate parking concerns and ensure continued success for the businesses that call Bell Boulevard home.”
Sclair believes that they will ultimately implement several solutions from short-term tinkering, such as free valet services on parts of Bell Boulevard, to more long-term goals like building a parking garage.
“There’s only so much you can do with tweaking around the edges,” Sclair said. “The big thing is increasing the supply.”
But Sclair doesn’t want the city to dictate the terms. On April 14, the BID is holding a community meeting at the Bayside Methodist Church at 7 p.m. to gauge the public’s interests and concerns.
“We’re here to understand these localized issues and work with the city to come up with solutions,” Sclair said. “We have everybody on board and we want to have everyone in the conversation as early as possible.”