A Symptom Of The City's War On Businesses
Many locals were titillated by the sight of actual television stars walking around Beach 116 Street last weekend and early this week. There was Skeet Ulrich, formerly of "Jericho," eating at the Last Stop Cafe and John McGinley, formerly of "Scrubs," standing in the rain in front of the firehouse. Everybody was on the lookout for Sherry Stringfield, an early "ER" star. Star-watching was the upside of the television shoot for a new CBS TV pilot entitled, "Back," which took most of the weekend and Monday on the shopping street. The downside was what the three-day shoot did to the business community on the weekend prior to both Easter and Passover. There was virtually no parking allowed on the two-block shopping area from Friday morning to Monday afternoon. More that half of the municipal lot was blocked off for vehicles being utilized by the production company. No parking, no shopping, especially on Monday, when the skies opened up and the rain poured down. One business owner, who counts heavily on the holiday shopping period, lamented that nobody driving by could even tell that her store was open, because it was blocked from street view by two large trucks and an ersatz fire engine. Another, who planned a grand opening event for Saturday that included free pet food given away outside the store, had to cancel completely at the last minute because of the shoot across the street. Storeowners up and down the street complained that they were notified on Thursday afternoon that the street would be closed down on Friday. John Lepore, the president of the local chamber of commerce, said that the city "did a lousy job," in approving the shoot for last weekend and in failing to provide adequate notification. To our mind, the shoot was just another manifestation of the city's lack of interest when it comes to small business. It's as if city officials are saying, "You don't count." It often takes draconian measures to stay in business in this city. Small business owners are regulated, taxed and fined out of business, and nobody at Gracie Mansion seems to care. The television shoot on a busy pre-holiday weekend that shut down many locals seems to be just another symptom of that war.