Business group won’t remove Bay Ridge’s rogue benches

Food cart gets benched: Street seats block street meats in Bay Ridge
Community Newspaper Group / Will Bredderman

The 86th Street Business Improvement District will not remove two benches that were mysteriously bolted onto Fifth Avenue under the cover of darkness last month to displace a controversial gyro cart, claiming that it shouldn’t be responsible for cleaning up someone else’s mess.

“We’re not moving benches that we didn’t put in place,” said Patrick Condren, manager of the 86th Street Business Improvement District, the group in charge of making 86th Street more business friendly. “This is outside of our realm.”

The Business Improvement District pays for street cleaning and installs benches, antique lamp posts and holiday lights that will make the strip more appealing to shoppers, but Condren said his group doesn’t have the money to remove the wayward benches.

“I’m authorized to spend money in a very restricted manner,” Condren said.

The benches mysteriously appeared near 86th Street on March 22 — forcing a popular Middle Eastern gyro cart to move further down the block.

Sammy Kassen, the manager of Middle Eastern Halal Cart, suspects that Fifth Avenue merchants Tony Gentile and Mike Boutross, who he’s had ongoing problems with — and are members of the 86th Street Business Improvement District — installed the benches, but the businessmen say they had nothing to do with it.

A store owner near 87th Street said one of the migrant benches was removed from in front of his business, but said he didn’t know who uprooted it from the ground and brought it closer to 86th Street.

But Condren says his group does not know who put the benches in and was working with the city’s Department of Transportation to solve the stumper. He said he intends to punt the issue of removing the pieces of rogue street furniture to Community Board 10, but the neighborhood panel has already made it clear that they can’t do anything about the benches either.

The Board is not an enforcement agency, CB10 Chairwoman Joanne Seminara said.