Saving Our Neighborhood Spots

Written by Bette Dewing on . Posted in News Our Town.


The city must do more to preserve small businesses

that create a sense of community

So government is no longer shut down – but in New York City, it was never really “open” to say, saving neighborhood stores and affordable eateries that meet everyday needs. Nor was it even that “open” with the construction of the Second Avenue Subway, designed to benefit all New Yorkers, which killed off and severely injured many nearby places which had long served and nurtured “the nabe.” Small businesses also mean jobs.

This construction now overwhelms the East 70s and soon the East 60s, creating unsafe and unhealthy residential conditions – not for a week, or even a year! We should require elected officials to experience the condtions suffered by our next City Comptroller, Scott Stringer, when he and his wife had to take a temporary apartment near the construction site.

But far more important is the general killing off of small indepenedent businesses which once made New York a city of neighbohooods and indeed, the nation’s most livable city.

You have your list of places you very much miss, most often killed off by governments’ failure to pass commercial rent controls. Maybe you too lament the loss of independent diners and coffee shops, because of the social as well as nutritional needs they meet, especially for those who often eat alone. We may interact with the owners and waiters more often than with any existing family and friends. They smile, use your name and even want to know how you’re doing. There’s a concerned continuity there which human beings very nuch need.

You likely have or had such a favorite place. Mine was located on East 79th and First Avenue and operated by John and Peter for over three decades. Reportedly, longtime Gracie’s Diner on East 86th Street and First Avenue and other nearby small stores will be replaced by luxury high-rise towers, thanks to property owner and former mayoral candidate, John Casimatidis.

And it’s happening all over Manhattan and other boroughs as well. The concerned must join together and heed Commuity Board 8’s Small Business Chair Cory Evans’ letter: “Small businesses are integral parts of our community. That’s why Community Board 8 founded the Small Business Committee this past April to give small businesses a boost and start a discussion on how government can keep our small businesss in business.”

“At 9:30 PM on Thursday, October 24th, that discussion continues through a televised interview with Mr. Andrew Kalloch, Deputy General Counsel to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.It will air on MNN, the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Ch. 34, on Time Warner, Ch 82 on RCN and Ch. 33 on FiOS.”

Evans urges us to watch and also respond. For the many without e-mail, call Board 8 at 212-758-4340. The e-mail is info@cb8m.com.

Infinitely more must be done to save and restore small businesses city-wide. Help organize their owners. Do more ourselves, and above, all repeatedly remind government its first duty to protect public welfare and safety, which must include protecting neighborhood businesses. Bill de Blasio vows to produce more affordable housing, but what about saving and restoring affordable small stores and eateries? Or the small businesses that help to make the city more stable and safe? Isn’t that the city’s number one need?

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