What does it profit a city when a mayor’s top priority is for affordable homes to “lay down the head,” but with no plan to save the nearby places which meet residents’ everyday needs. Such places, of course, are located on the ground floors of the low-rises being replaced by luxury high-rises which may contain some affordable homes. But ironically, high-rises displace longtime non-market rate tenants, as well as neighborhood-serving places. Consequent construction noise is unending.
No-vision naked emperorsAnd in every borough, neighborhoods which made New York such a great and life-long place to live, are being rapidly banished by emperors with no clothes vision. They can’t see the forest for the trees or that so many soaring social ills they decry, like mental illness, relate to a lack of stable and supportive neighborhood communities. But crime does thrive when the citizenry isn’t out there walking to various neighborhood stores and cafes. Literally untold losses result.
A most worthwhile holiday gatheringWill such losses be discussed at local elected officials’ parties? Thankfully, one December gathering hosted by D’Agostino’s supermarket located on York between 79th and 80th did just that. Publicized as a community meeting with refreshments served, the public was urged to attend and tell the store how it could do better. Like traditional supermarkets all over, business is off, and I went (after learning I’d be helped to manage the steep stairs to the meeting room), because this store so needs to be saved. Alas, some traditional markets are slated for closure, we hope. later, than sooner, like East End’s Gristedes, where my loyalties lie.
Lost livelihoods! And not only the public loses, but think of the lost work places, with the longtime emotional ties, but above all, lost livelihoods, and when employees are no longer young or any age. Infinitely more must be said.
The smiling and other solutionsSo how was the D’Agostino meeting, already? Well, complaints about pricing and flawed food or service ensued, but the over-riding concern was for this family-owned store’s continued presence. And many said, “Since manager, Joe Majiko, returned, things have already improved!” Ah, and Majiko shares my belief to, “Above all, go all-out to make it a very helpful ‘service with a smile’ store!” (Indeed science finds the very act of smiling also cheers the smiler’s brain.) Of course, East 79th Street Neighborhood Association president Betty Cooper Wallerstein was there with civil critiques and helpful suggestions. Other association members chimed in.
Keep up the pressureBut these places and their patrons must also bring their problems and ideas to this paper. Elected officials and civic groups must get big-time continuing pressure to make saving and restoring these everyday need-filling resources, a top priority. And remember, these places are also Safe Havens and potential emergency centers. And do stress how New York will no longer be elder-friendly, if accessible neighborhood places no longer exist.
Forewarning so needed But did anyone try to stop the sale of the low-rise building on 81st and York which houses Gracie’s Café, open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and light refreshments -- and offering popular outdoor seating ? Also reportedly sold are the two small buildings behind it. One is the charming Gracie Inn, where the area’s visiting family and friends often conveniently stay. The other provides rental homes and dry cleaners. More neighborhood-serving places lost to yet another private home-only high-rise. And critical lease negotiations are underway for Logos Book Store on York between 83rd and 84th, the only area store which holds regular community events, including a children’s story hour.
Don’t be Silent –Support Local So speak out. Don’t be silent. And we can fight City Hall, if enough of us try – keep trying. Shop/support local. Smile - a lot more. And Charlie Brown would likely say, all this really does relate to what Christmas and Chanukah are all about…