Parking spots, permit processes and immigration were some of the topics that At-Large Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo heard during a tour of West Roxbury's Main Street district on Tuesday.
West Roxbury Main Streets' Executive Director Kara O'Connor introduced Arroyo to several Centre Street business owners as a part of the councilor's citywide visit of all Main Street districts. Arroyo is going to build an overarching plan with three to five points that all Main Street business owners expressed would help them.
"When we bought (Rox Diner) we didn't even know about these municipal programs. We were happy to get any help we could," said John Fortin, co-owner of the Rox Diner, regarding government programs that aid businesses. Programs like the West Roxbury Main Streets Storefront Improvement program that helped with the Rox Diner's new sign. The owner/chef added he's had a good experience in West Roxbury.
But things can always be run smoother, as Fortin told Arroyo about how certain government fees go up when you make more money. He added that transferring the license with the city from the previous owner was difficult, too.
Farther down the road, JP Bedard of Wicked Sharp, complained to Arroyo about the limited parking situation on Centre Street. Bedard, whose store opened up two weeks ago, said there aren't enough retail stores in the business district.
"Yes, you have banks and nail salons," said Arroyo.
Arroyo and O'Connor talked about how they would like to diversify the business district and not have so many duplicating businesses such as banks, nail and beauty salons.
Arroyo added that the permit process at City Hall can be very frustrating and confusing. "Why can't we just click 'beauty salon' and those are the permits you need?"
iScream Works co-owner Steve Palladino decided to ask Arroyo about why the councilor brought a motion to the City Council about a controversial Arizona immigration law.
Arroyo, a fourth-generation American, said he didn't agree with the law's initial ability to allow racial profiling.
After discussing immigration, Palladino continued the common sentiment of Centre Street business owners - there's not enough parking on the street.
Palladino also let the councilor know about the iScream Works fingerprinting ID event this weekend. Kids get a free cone after getting fingerprinted. Arroyo said he'd try to attend.
From his brief tour Arroyo gathered some pretty quick insights of what business owners wanted to build a plan to help the shops.
"The idea is I'm in a unique situation as an at-large councilor. We can find similarities (of Main Streets business districts). We need to know how can the city be more helpful or what works well and keep it."