Property owner Kurt Schneiter has been elected the new board president of the Belmont Shore Business Association, and he says he wants to get Second Street moving again.
Schneiter takes over for Mike Sheldrake, who has served as president for the last six years. Sheldrake operate Sheldrake Coffee Roasting, formerly Polly's Gourmet Coffee.
"Having lived here 31 years, I’ve come to think of Belmont Shore as the City’s playground for water and beach sports, dining and shopping," Schneiter said. "I currently see significant opportunities for our local businesses, residents and landlords to work together to improve the ambiance of the Shore."
Schneiter, owner of Maverick Investments, is a partner in the ICONIX fitness center at Olympic Plaza, and owns retail buildings on Second Street. He said Sunday that he is "buying into the Shore more," including closing in the next two weeks on purchase of the Wells Fargo Bank building.
Schneiter served on the Belmont Shore Parking and Business Improvement Advisory Commission board for more than a decade, stepping down several years ago. He is fairly new on the BSBA board, though.
A top priority, he said, will be making some, if not all, of the temporary parklets in front of Shore restaurants permanent. The parklets were approved this summer to allow outdoor seating for restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic. It still is illegal to serve customers inside a building.
When asked how the revenue from parking spaces would be made up, Schneiter said the restaurant that benefits from the parklet should pay the full annual amount of expected meter revenue as part of the permit fee. He also said the Mello Roos Fund, a property tax assessment paid by building owners, could be a source of money.
"We also need to recruit the right tenants to activate Second Street and one way to get that started, especially during the holiday season, is to bring “pop-up” shops to vacant storefronts," Schneiter said. "Local companies and artisans who would fill under-serviced niches will draw shoppers to the Shore and have the opportunity to determine if Second Street could be a permanent home for their shop."
Dede Rossi, the BSBA's executive director for the last decade, had announced plans to retire early this year, but agreed to stay on to get the organization through the coronavirus pandemic. Schneiter has worked with Rossi, and said that a search for a replacement would be a group effort when the time is right.
"I look forward to Kurt’s knowledge of commercial property and him working with other property owners to bring some unique businesses to the Shore," Rossi said.
Schneiter said he also wants to get the BSBA involved in the controversy over the rebuild of the Bay Shore Neighborhood Library on Bay Shore Drive and Second Street. The city has set money aside to refurbish the library, but current plans show a modern facade for the mid-century building.
"Treasures like the library are important elements that reflect on our past accomplishments as well as maintain the soul of Belmont Shore’s eclectic architecture," he said. "The entrances to Belmont Shore should say ‘welcome to our beautiful home – please stay a while and enjoy!'"
Schneiter has become known for crossing swords with the city, most recently regarding operations at ICONIX during COVID-19 restrictions. He said he believes he can work with anyone.
"I have no problem working with anyone; it's just that I'm not the yes man they might want," Schneiter said. "No good change comes without a little bit of head butting, right?"
Schneiter is joined on the executive board by Dave Shlemmer, VP Finance; Aaron Tofani, VP Promotions; Tula Trigonis, Treasurer; and Matt Peterson, Secretary. Other board members are Frank Colonna, Bart DeLio, Sara DeMuncy, Heather Duncan, Stacy Evans, Ryan Hofman, Eric Johnson, Alexis Rabenn and Mike Sheldrake.