A longtime board member of the Roncesvalles Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) was honoured at the Second Annual Toronto BIAs Recognition Awards on Nov. 13.

Andrew Chomentowski was awarded the first Michael Comstock Community Builder Award.

Chomentowski’s involvement in the business community in Roncesvalles Village began shortly after establishing his photography studio on Roncesvalles Avenue in the early 1970s.

Along with John Wakulat, then chair of the Upper Roncesvalles BIA, Chomentowski played a key role in the merger of the Upper Roncesvalles BIA and the High Park BIA to form the Roncesvalles Village BIA in 1986.

“We were in a portion of the street that had no BIA and the idea came along to merge the two and include us,” he said. “I was in the centre part so I went to our neighbours and mobilized them to lobby to come together.”

Since then Chomentowski has chaired the Marketing and Promotions Committee of the Roncesvalles Village BIA, developed many promotional initiatives, including the Roncesvalles Reporter, various sidewalk sales and festivals including the Roncesvalles Polish Festival, which is now North America’s largest celebration of Polish culture.

Chomentowski served as vice-chair of the Roncesvalles Village BIA for many years, and decided to retire from this position on May 1, 2012. In tribute to his many years of service to the organization, Roncesvalles Village BIA Chair Tony Cauch took a brief administrative leave in the days leading up to Chomentowski’s retirement so he would retire as chair of the BIA and therefore be accorded the title and position of chair emeritus.

“I think it was wonderful, I don’t know how I deserved it because I just did what I had to do,” he said of the award. “I was no different than any other business owner on the street.”

Chomentowski, who lives in Mississauga but still owns property in Roncesvalles, continues to serve as chair of the marketing and promotions committee of the Roncesvalles Village BIA and managing director of the Roncesvalles Polish Festival.

Also recognized that night was the Dundas West BIA which was recognized for its parkettes in the Outstanding Streetscape Improvement Awards category.

The Gateways Award was given to The Liberty Village BIA in recognition of its public art installation, located at the corner of King Street West and Atlantic Avenue. It provides an attractive, unique and welcoming entry from King Street.

by Erin Hatfield: InsideToronto.com

Nov 22, 2012