The Town of Babylon wants to pretty up the pumps.
Town officials on Thursday announced a new initiative, Operation Gas Station, that will target 84 gas stations and encourage owners to make improvements.
Some stations around the town have “gotten tired and need a little TLC and others just ignore the town code,” Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said.
Throughout the summer town interns visited all of the stations and took notes on the properties as well as "before" photos, Schaffer said. Last week those stations were sent a list of suggestions for site improvements aimed at bringing the properties into compliance with town code and also beautifying the stations. Those suggestions range from cleaning signs and power washing sidewalks to adding an alternative generated power source.
Every business quarter the town will publicly acknowledge the three most improved sites and also highlight the three least-improved stations. Schaffer said the town will give stations six to nine months to comply with town code before being given notices of violation.
The initiative is being done in partnership with the Long Island Gas Retailers Association, a Melville-based trade association.
“Instead of government dictating and telling people what to do, or using a heavy stick, we want to work in partnerships,” Schaffer said. “Once you make your business more accommodating, you’re not only in compliance with town code but you’ll probably see your business increase.”
Schaffer said he wants to next use the initiative as a model for dealing with other types of businesses such as 7-Eleven, which has about two dozen locations within the town.
Officials announced the gas station program outside a Lindenhurst Bolla Market Mobile station that opened in May. The station’s owner, Harry Singh, owns more than 100 stations across Long Island and New York City, and said the initiative is “the best thing that you could do for this industry” because it will “encourage people to do the right thing.”
Chris Daniello, executive director of the trade group, said that his members “weren’t too thrilled” when first learning about the initiative but after some conversations, they are viewing it as a positive move.
“They are looking at it like the town is trying to bargain with them, not trying to beat them up,” he said. He said many members are small mom and pop businesses, so the group is providing them with a list of service providers that will offer discounts for certain types of improvements.
Kim Durant, 49, of Amityville, said she welcomes more improvements to gas stations so that they feel safer, especially at night.
“It has to be safe and lit up so I feel comfortable getting out, or else I don’t stop,” she said.
The town will announce its first list of most and least-improved stations on Nov. 19.