By Trisha Sakhuja
As Democratic Mayoral candidate Sal Albanese began his “Save our Neighborhoods” tour from Roosevelt Avenue and 57th Street., he walked in and out of an array of small businesses, asking them how their business is doing and what the City could do better to help them function properly and expand.
On the afternoon of July 18, Albanese listened closely to the concerns of the local shoppers and merchants at appliance stores, florists, bodegas, bakeries, restaurants and delis.
More than a dozen languages were spoken on the bustling strip of businesses as they all spoke English with a unique accent.
Albanese, an advocate for small businesses, said the City needs to do a lot more for the “new American” business owners, especially when
it comes to the language barrier.
“There is no place more diverse than Queens,” Albanese said in comparison to other parts of the City. “The City only helps the big corporations, but I feel like I can make a difference.”
Albanese said the main concerns surrounding the local business owners are the hefty fines being hit by City agencies for minor violations that the owners can easily fix or avoid if given a warning before the fine.
“City agencies should warn them first and give them a chance to mitigate the problem before fining them thousands of dollars in violations,” said Albanese. “A lot of these owners are operating on small margins and most of them are immigrants.”
“The Dept. of Sanitation will fine for little things,” said owner Soon Kim of Junes Cards and Such, located at 58-17 on Woodside Avenue. “Th
ey came into our backyard and saw we did not separate our garbage, but we put garbage in the back when we are in a hurry and we do recycle when we put the garbage out in the front.”
Another concern was the need for more safety patrols, especially during the evening hours.
Albanese said even though crime rates are down in the City, “the business owners still feel intimidated.”
For Gift, Games and Toyshop owner, Julie Eugermio, whose business is located at 67-13 in Woodside, she worries about her high rent and where she will relocate after the lease of her building ends because her business is not doing so well.
During the next part of the ongoing “
Save our Neighborhoods” tour, Albanese said he will advocate for parkland and against the development of Flushing Meadows Corona Park.