FOREST HILLS — The Station Square Inn recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, but businesses in the surrounding area say they've got little reason to celebrate — scaffolding erected as part of the Square's repair and restoration has left their stores hidden in the shadows for years.
"Just look around; all our advertising is gone," said a frustrated Ted Garbe, 77, who runs a skin care salon below the inn on Greenway Terrace with his wife, Dorina. The salon, Dorina Garbe Skin Care, which the Garbes have owned since 1987, is completely obscured behind scaffolding.
When asked how long the scaffolding has been around, an animated Garbe waved his hand and said: "This is forever here."
And according to an employee at nearby Terrace Sotheby's Realty: "It's been here since Moses walked the Earth."
"All of my tenants are screaming irate," said Ray Kaiser, Garbe's landlord and owner of the commerical space on the ground floor level of the inn, on Greenway Terrace, who added that the storeowners have said that traffic to their businesses has slowed since the scaffolding went up.
According to Forest Hills preservationist Michael Perlman, scaffolding in Station Square has been up since 2004, when the Station Square Inn co-op board erected it in order to conduct emergency repairs on the building after tiles fell from the roof.
Over the years, scaffolding has popped up in several places around the square.
Repair work was delayed for years while the co-op board fought a legal battle with the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation, the entity that owns the streets and controls much of the operations in Forest Hills Gardens, a privately owned neighborhood.
Litigation was resolved in 2009 after a new co-op board was put in place, but the work didn't begin until a year later, as the new co-op board didn't have the money to carry out the repairs immediately.
The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation declined comment on the story. Martin Restituyo, the president of the Station Square Inn co-op board, did not respond to multiple interview requests.
George Hoban, a member of the One Station Square Historical Committee who used to sit on the co-op board, said that a large portion of the scaffolding will come down before the end of the year, with the portion above Burns Street coming down "fairly soon."
"We're moving in the right direction," said Hoban, who has lived in the building since 1997.
Business owners caught in the middle of the legal struggle say information has been slow to reach them.
Pina Basu, an administrator at the office of Forest Hills gastroenterologist Dr. Patrick Basu, said that a section of scaffolding on Greenway Terrace and that no one told her or her husband that it was happening.
Basu said that the scaffolding provided an obstacle for patients coming to be seen at the office as well as abmulances that drop off patients.
Basu said that the scaffolding is particularly hard on wheelchair-bound patients, who have to head all the way to the end of the block in order to get onto the sidewalk.
"We see pretty sick patients," Basu said. "They shouldn't have to walk by Jade in order to get here."