2002-12-19 / Top Stories

Fidler Heads Task Force Trying To Revitalize Ave. L

By Jason Medina

Fidler Heads Task Force Trying To Revitalize Ave. L

By Jason Medina

A task force organized by City Councilman Lewis Fidler will convene in early January to develop a strategy to revitalize the economically depleted Avenue L shopping strip. The first term councilman, whose district includes Canarsie, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Marine Park and other communities, made the welcome announcement at the recent Canarsie South Civic Association meeting.

According to Fidler, the task force will consist of elected officials, including State Senator John Sampson and State Assemblyman Frank Seddio, as well as local civic association, 69th Precinct and economic development agency representatives, and, of course, Avenue L merchants.

Fidler said the group’s initial objective should be to determine why shoppers have neglected the once thriving seven-block shopping district, between Rockaway Parkway and Remsen Avenue, which Fidler referred to as "the spine of the community."

"One of the things I believe we’re going to have to do right in the beginning of this task force is a study to see what’s there and figure out what people want to see there," said Fidler.

Residents at the meeting argued that the strip’s current economic problems might stem from too many similar types of businesses and the increase of storefront religious institutions along Avenue L, which they claim are forcing shoppers to go elsewhere.

They also said they believe that restricting more religious institutions and repetitive business types from operating on Avenue L would help bring it back to its former prominence.

Fidler pointed out that there is no way to zone religious institutions or stop similar businesses from opening along the strip, but he made it clear that everything will be done to encourage merchants that offer the kinds of businesses people want to come here.

Fidler has been working with Sampson and Seddio on a plan to rejuvenate the Avenue L shopping district since he took office last January.

At a September civic meeting, Seddio announced that decorative lights would be installed along Avenue L by the Department of Transportation sometime next year. At the same meeting, Sampson said he has been working with the East New York Development Corporation to get avenue L included in an East New York "Empire Zone," which would make it eligible for incentives to make it more attractive for business to develop on Avenue L.

The Avenue L Task Force’s first meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Hebrew Educational Society, East 95 Street and Seaview Avenue. The public is not formally being invited to this initial gathering. Community input will be sought at a town meeting to be scheduled at a later date.

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