N.Y. Town Launches Gas Station ‘Beauty Contest’

Babylon officials are banking that pride and partnerships will motivate business owners to do the right thing.

October 17, 2018

BABYLON, N.Y. – What makes a driver stop at a particular gas station? In Babylon, N.Y., it could be because of its glamorous pumps and decked out landscaping, WLNY/CBSNewYork reports.

Town officials decided to start a gas station “beauty contest” to encourage retailers to pretty-up their properties. “Instead of sending inspectors out to enforce the code, we wanted to try something new,” said Rich Shaffer, Babylon supervisor. Over the summer, the city’s interns documented each of the town’s 84 gas stations.

Last week, the city sent letters to each one to let them know about the contest and the results of the first tally. Through visits and feedback from customers, the city will rate the stations each quarter and hand out rewards. The stations are graded on food stands, safe parking, lighting, clean bathrooms, no litter and plenty of flowers.

At first, some gas station owners weren’t happy about the contest, according to Chris Daniello with the Long Island Gasoline Retailers Association. “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.

Harry Singh owns a Lindenhurst Bolla station that was one of the first to receive top marks in Operation Gas Station. “We want people to believe like they are shopping at Armani or Gucci,” Singh said.

In November, the city will announce the top three gas stations, as well as the bottom three, which will be required to clean up their act within six to nine months or face code violation fines.