Instead Of Sending Inspectors To Enforce Codes, Babylon Officials Say Pride And Partnering Should Motivate Business Owners

BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A contest is underway in a Long Island town to beautify its 84 gasoline stations.

Are drivers lured by landscaping or the glammed-up pumps?

That’s what gets Kim Durant, a Babylon nurse, to pull in.

“Definitely presentation. I like a clean atmosphere, and I don’t like to go into places I don’t feel safe or comfortable,” Durant told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan on Wednesday.

Beautifying gas stations? To pretty up the town? Really?

“Instead of sending inspectors out to enforce the code, we wanted to try something new,” Babylon Supervisor Rich Shaffer said.

station2 Gas Station Beauty Contest Underway In Suffolk County Town

The town of Babylon in Suffolk County has 84 gas stations and is holding a beautification contest. (Photo: CBS2)

Rather than carrying a big stick and handing out summonses, the town believes pride and partnering will motivate.

“So we had a bunch of interns work this summer. They went out and they documented all the gas stations. We have a total of 84 gas stations,” Shaffer said.

Among the owners, the good, bad and ugly received letters last week, informing them that a contest is underway. Rewards will be handed out every business quarter.

Harry Singh, owner of a Lindenhurst Bolla station, received high marks.

“We want people to believe like they are shopping at Armani or Gucci,” Singh said.

Operation Gas Station’s report card consists of the following: clean bathrooms, food stands, safe parking, lighting, no garbage and plenty of flowers.

“The landscaping is beautiful, but I right here because the price,” one person said.

“It’s very attractive,” one woman said.

“I have been to a couple of gas stations that are, how do I say, filthy,” a young man said.

Chris Daniello of the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association said at first station owners were defensive.

“By improving their property, fixing the parking lot, getting rid of the potholes, doing some landscaping is actually going to improve their business,” Daniello said.

And the local chambers of commerce say the time has come to unite for public beautification.

“People should care. It’s our home. It’s our country. It’s our town,” said Sharon Fattoruso of the Copiage Chamber of Commerce.

Next month, the top three gas stations will be announced. The bottom three will be revealed, too, with the losers put on notice. They’ll have to clean up or face future fees and fines for code violations.

Scofflaws will be given six to nine months to come into compliance before violation notices are handed out.