The Pep Boys on East Tremont Avenue, near Westchester Square, was considered an eyesore by some area merchants – until recently.
After numerous complaints to the auto parts store management dating back through the summer, the retailer’s parking lot, work area and sidewalk space have been spruced up. The improvements began in mid-October and are still ongoing.
They include landscaping work, repaired lighting, and fresh paint. Also, bins that had been set up for clothing donations, but often had more clothes around them than in them, have been removed.
Those bins were not managed or controlled by Pep Boys, but did contribute to the property’s shoddy image on the block between Silver Street and St. Raymond’s Avenue.
“There is a difference,” said Joe Regina, program manager for the Westchester Square Merchants Association and one of the first community members to sound the alarm about the unkempt auto shop. “It wasn’t good, naturally.”
One of the biggest concerns was the lack of landscaping around the entrance to the Pep Boys repair shop. Some felt it reflected poorly on both the Bronx and neighborhood, when compared to more manicured Pep Boys locations in suburban areas.
“They cleaned out all their drainage areas,” he said. “It’s my hope that they stay true to their word, keep it maintained and continue being a good neighbor.”
Westchester Square-area resident Lou Rocco also contacted the national chain’s regional management and he was thrilled with the response he received from all levels of the company once the issue was brought to light.
“They were very concerned that we get this place cleaned up,” he said. “They were the nicest people. They said ‘we’ll do everything’. They replanted, and cleaned. It was pleasure working with them, and right now it’s up to the people to help maintain it.”
Derreck Trujillo is service manager at the Westchester Square store and was charged with overseeing the cleanup.
“We put a little more emphasis on landscaping,” he said. “We had trees and bushes planted, and black mulch added.”
The company bought a leaf blower for autumn, has instituted a regular trash sweep of the parking lot, and cleanup of some graffiti. And, as always, Trujillo said it continues to dispose of any waste fluids in special waste tanks.
“It’s not like I don’t want the parking lot to look nice, but I wish I had a little more help from the community, so they wouldn’t dump or vandalize here, because I think that’s also an issue,” Trujillo said.
“But I do think the Pep Boys parking lot looks a lot sharper now,” he said.
Bill Weisbrod can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394.