Today’s issue, folks, is safety in Gowanus -- and an important issue it is. Last month, Four & Twenty Blackbirds owner Emily Elsen was robbed by an armed assailant right outside of the business, which is located on 8th Street and 3rd Avenue, and now, residents and shop owners are seeking greater NYPD presence.
First of all, owning a pie shop is about the most congenial thing a person can do, and someone decided to rob her. On Thanksgiving? Let me insert a “well, shit” followed by a “what’s this world coming to?” When events like this happen they don’t just affect a person, they affect an entire community -– and the community is speaking out.
Last Wednesday, the Eighth Street Block Association and the Gowanus Alliance organized a forum of Gowanus merchants at Halyard’s Bar in support of a greater NYPD presence. Merchants spoke out in fear for their safety and the well-being of their neighborhood without ramped up NYPD patrols. They argued that although the neighborhood corridor is getting busier, it still tends to be dark and desolate at night, creating a less-than-ideal scene for shop owners and patrons alike.
Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri, who was in attendance, did not necessarily agree saying, “We haven’t seen any of those kinds of incidents prior to that, or since then, in and around the Park Slope area — which is positive in that it is not a chronic problem.” Rather than pledging devoted officers or increased patrols the Deputy Inspector offered ‘more sensible’ solutions, which boil down to looking both ways before crossing the road and not taking candy from strangers.
Is this an acceptable response to the concerns of a neighborhood in fear? Did this quell a growing hysteria that, while founded, surpassed the situation? The bottom line is nobody deserves to live in fear. I’ve spent much time hanging in Gowanus area and agree that it feels a tad dicey after dark. Not all areas are well-lit and there are long stretches with very few open businesses and little foot traffic. Hell, it even feels a bit dicey during the day. The area hosts numerous vacant factories with blown out windows and the Gowanus Canal which occasionally takes on a milk-like color and the fabulous bouquet of paint thinner. All that aside, Gowanus houses some of my favorite spots including Littleneck, Canal Bar, and Halyards, not to mention a bourgeoning fine arts scene.
It’s understood that the police have limited resources and can’t rise to every call for action, but I do hope they’re able to restore a sense of security to the residents and merchants of this wonderful neighborhood.
[Via the Brooklyn Paper]