Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 15 April 2011 00:00
The Mineola Chamber of Commerce (COC) presented a revamped Mineola Fair to the board of trustees last Wednesday. Origin Press owner and COC President Ray Sikorski as well as Willis Hobbies owner/past president Steve Ford, Piccola Bussola owner/chamber board member Tony Lubrano and chamber treasurer Linda Doerbecker pled their case, stating that to bring the fair to the doorsteps of the business owner was an advantageous thing to do.
For the past 20 years, the spring fair has been run out of Memorial Park. The three chamber representatives brought a proposal before the board to move the fair and turn it into a street fair.
The chamber proposed to incorporate the fair into the Mineola Boulevard area. Sunday, Sept. 25 is the date proposed for the street fair.
Ford proposed closing from Front and Main Street from north to First Street. Furthermore, Ford proposed closing from Harrison Avenue to the Oyster Bay LIRR line near Fox’s Women’s Apparel. Another proposed closing Mineola Boulevard in a two-block area from Harrison Avenue to the north side of 2nd Street so that traffic coming north over the Michael Balboni Bridge will still be able to make a left turn into the hospital.
“Traffic coming south on Mineola Boulevard I guess would have to make a right on Harrison [Avenue] and go around that way or make a left and go over to Willis Avenue,” Ford said.
Ford said he has already been in touch a representative with the MTA regarding bus stops in that area and according to the representative, Ford said when there’s a secure date and time frame, the MTA would send appropriate paperwork to “reschedule the buses around those stops.”
“One of the reasons we’re doing this is the business community needs a boost,” Ford said. “Today’s economic times and what not. So we thought that rather than bring these people to Memorial Park, if we could bring the fair-goers to their front door, I think it would make an impact on the businesses. It would let people know what we have in Mineola.”
According to Ford, the COC is looking to feature a car show in this street fair. The Citibank parking lot on the corner of Mineola Boulevard and 2nd Street is being considered by the COC, Ford said.
“We want to incorporate rides for the kids,” he said. “The bouncy rides as we normally have at our fair.”
COC board member Lubrano went around to local businesses with Ford and spoke to owners and said he was “pleasantly surprised” at the response, stating that only a few years ago, businesses balked at the idea of a street fair. Lubrano cited the village’s vision of revitalizing the downtown area as a reason of moving it out of Memorial Park.
“Memorial Park was a great space, but mostly outside craft vendors took the event and it didn’t do much to showcase the businesses in Mineola,” Lubrano said. “We want to bring people to the businesses and show them ‘there’s an eyeglass store down there, there’s a pharmacy, there’s a restaurant I didn’t know that was here’ and give them a chance to see that they’re there.”
Mayor Scott Strauss said it needs to be clear that even though this street fair may be hosted in the downtown area, that hopefully all of the businesses in Mineola will be out and participating.
Trustee Larry Werther said hopefully this idea would bring business owners to the empty storefronts.
“I want to thank you all for thinking about this and making it work in Mineola,” he said. “I would hope an idea like this would prompt future business owners to fill the empty storefronts in the village.”
President Sikorski said the one-on-one soliciting of Ford and Lubrano helped the cause for the street fair. “Going and talking to people is better than sending out a letter,” he said. Sikorski stated further that a rain date may be scheduled for Oct. 2, the following Sunday from the proposed date.
Deputy Mayor Paul Pereira said that for the years he’s been on the board, he commends the COC for keeping the fire going for the fair.
“I know it’s a labor of love and you don’t have to do it, you choose to do it,” Pereira said. “For the three-plus years I’ve been here, it’s good to see the same people coming out and helping Mineola shine. I know you have a lot of work ahead of you and we’ll do all we can to take credit for all your hard work,” he said, prompting laughter from those in attendance.
Trustee Paul Cusato said he’s very interested in a street fair and hopefully “it gets worked out.” New trustee George Durham agreed with his sentiments.
The board reserved its decision on the proposed street fair for a later date.