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‘New blood’ to enhance the Square

The Westchester Square Merchants Association is about to embark on the embryonic steps necessary toward revitalizing the once prosperous commercial district. 

In the coming months, the local organization, which is in the process of forming a Business Improvement District, will see the “re-striping” of street lines in the busy commercial corridor, along with the installation of new banners designating the area. 

“It’s like getting ready for a big dance,” noted WSMA president John Bonizio.  “You put on your best suit or dress and get a haircut.  You want to look your best.  You’re ready to meet people....we’re ready to meet people.”

And by people, Bonizio means new businesses and new shoppers who will frequent the stores like they did years ago. 

“I remember buying my first piece of jewelry for a girl at B. Brown Jewelers when I was in my 20’s,” he recalled.  “Who doesn’t remember going to Woolworth’s?  There is no reason why Westchester Square can’t be a destination once again.”

According to Bonizio, any paint in the street, from the double yellow lines and white lines to the directional markings and the crosswalks will be repainted throughout the entire Square.

Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns believes the re-striping will have a number of positive affects. 

“The painting is all faded and it gets a little confusing for drivers in the area where Williamsbridge Road becomes E. Tremont,” said Kearns, who along with Councilman Jimmy Vacca and the DOT, helped make the painting a reality. 

“This will clear up that confusion,” Kearns added.  “The re-striping, along with the repainting of the #6 line, the future renovation of the Westchester Square station and plans to enhance the lighting of the community will make the area more attractive, pleasant and safe.”

Bonizio believes the painting will be completed in September or October, but DOT officials, while confirming a review to determine what kind of re-striping and markings can be done in the area, could not promise a time frame for its completion. 

Still, Bonizio is confident the plan will have a positive affect on the community, and looks forward to the following step, the installation of 45-50 8 x 3 foot banners on poles throughout the community advertising the commercial district. 

“He has a very ambitious agenda,” Vacca said of Bonizio’s goals.  “And certainly, great things are happening in the community.  John Bonizio is doing a great job; he has added a lot to the Square and it is good to have a very active merchants association once again.”

And why not, according to Bonizio, who also plans on conducting a needs assessment study of the area, from July 24-29. 

“There are more people passing through us every day and there is no reason for them to stop,” he said.  “With eight bus lines and a busy train station, it’s time we gave them a reason to shop at Westchester Square again.”

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