In January 2020, the Throggs Neck Business Improvement District (BID) was established and a month later appointed its executive director Bobby Jaen.
Before Jaen could even get the ball rolling COVID-19 arrived. The former Throggs Neck Merchants Association President and longtime Throggs Neck resident had his feet thrown right into the fire.
“We get the BID up and running and look what happens,” Jaen said.”They threw us in the deep end of the pool.”
But, Jaen did not let the coronavirus prevent him from doing his job. One of his goals as director was to make the community clean.
He arranged for private sanitation services to supplement NYC’s Department of Sanitation and they have cleaned every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and kept the streets tidy during the pandemic. In fact, the BID office has received an extensive number of compliments on how litter-free the neighborhood has become.
Owners of over 22 local businesses, including places such as the Crosstown Diner, Sisto Funeral Home, Cousins Pizza and Power Express Realty have expressed their satisfaction.
“Everyone has raved about how clean the neighborhood is,” Jaen said. “We wanted to make sure our sidewalks and streets were as clean as possible.”
Jaen also spoke to the Bronx Times about how the community has been affected by COVID-19. He noted that the majority of the businesses, outside of supermarkets and places that can offer takeout or delivery have been closed.
Many are struggling and Jaen hopes the governor rules the city can reopen soon. He has been in touch with people who are a few months behind in rent or in arrears to Con Edison.
According to Jaen, people want to reopen, but there’s so much miscommunication amongst the government that no one knows what’s going on.
“I truly believe that people [in government] really don’t know,” he said. “I think they’re throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks.”
While he realizes some stores may be forced to close due to COVID-19, he is hoping to attract businesses that shutter in Manhattan and try to get them to relocate to the borough.
Jaen noted there are places, which he would not name, that do not plan to reopen and even his barber of 25 years, has shuttered permanently.
Ultimately, it’s his goal to support the merchants during the crisis. Whatever they need, he is there to lend a helping hand.
“We’re trying to give some type of normalcy,” he said. “We’re trying to keep our neighborhood fed. This is a team effort.”