Williston Park sets deadline on burned businesses

On Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, Williston Park Mayor On Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehbar stands by storefronts in a key commercial corridor on Willis Avenue that were destroyed by a five-alarm fire July 24. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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Williston Park officials have set an Aug. 27 deadline for the owners of five businesses destroyed by fire last month to either fill in and flatten the site or present a plan to do so.

Village Attorney James Bradley made the announcement at Monday night's board meeting at which officials discussed the aftermath of the July 24 five-alarm fire. He said town officials sent business owners a letter dated Aug. 13 informing them they had 10 business days to comply.

Bradley said if an owner does not adhere to one of the options by the deadline, the board can convene a special hearing on whether the village should take its own "corrective action." If the village has to do the work, the cost would be reflected on that owner's tax bill, or the violator would pay a special assessment, Bradley said.

The businesses involved in the fire on Willis Avenue near Goodrich Street included The Place bar, S & F Shoe Repair, Williston Plumbing, a laundry and the Hair Junkie salon. Due to extensive structural damage, the bar, shoe repair shop and laundry were razed on the day of the fire. It has since been determined that the other two also need to be torn down.

Bradley said the hope is that the landlords can work collectively to bring the site "into compliance."

Building Inspector Kerry Collins said they must completely clear their properties and then restore them to flat surfaces, "taking the foundations and the rest of the buildings and sites back to their original conditions when the buildings were erected in the 1930s."

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Collins said about five insurance companies are involved in the business claims, but the village wants to see everything completed "in a short time."

The fire was reported at 2:45 a.m. Arson has been ruled out, but the cause of the fire is still under investigation. One Albertson firefighter was injured when he tripped and fell.

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