April 27, 2014 By R. Blostin (Opinion)
I have lived in Sunnyside since the late 1980’s and feel that I am as qualified as anyone around here to comment on the recent changes that have taken place here. Although it is at times very entertaining to read the vitriolic rants of the readers of the Sunnyside Post I can sympathize with their frustration.
Sunnyside is a microcosm of the rest of New York City. The problems that we are facing are the same as many neighborhoods around the city. The piece of the pie left for the poor and middle class seems to be shrinking every day. Our expenses go up but our wages remain stagnant. The frustration from these changes brought about the election of Mayor de Blasio last November.
Many residents reminisce about the old Sunnyside. They claim it has lost its small town feeling. Commercial and residential rents have gone through the roof, mom and pop store are being replaced by franchise stores and of course the invasion of the dreaded hipsters. The “hipster” is probably the most reviled character in 21st century New York City. Nowadays, you’d rather be called a communist than a hipster – at least in Sunnyside!
I do not agree that the changes in the last few years that we have seen in Sunnyside have all been bad. Yes, the seemingly out of control commercial and residential rents are devastating to many of us. As mentioned earlier I moved to Sunnyside in the late 1980’s and was fortunate enough to scrape up enough money to buy a co-op when they were not selling for much.
Luckily, I do not have to deal with the skyrocketing rents. Currently, co-op prices in Sunnyside are still a bargain compared to Manhattan and Brooklyn and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future. Full disclosure – I want to see my co-op appreciate in price!
Except for the recent rash of store closings, the last few years have seen many nice new stores and restaurants move to our neighborhood. Personally, I would like to see a mix of franchise stores and so-called mom and pop stores here. I do not want to see a chain drug store or bank on every corner. For that matter, I do not want to see anymore 99 cent stores or nail salons either! Enough! Do your nails yourself. A healthy neighborhood needs large franchise stores as anchors. When was the last time that you saw a McDonalds go out of business?
Finally, to my point for writing this story. About 10 years ago I wanted to get involved and do some good in Sunnyside but I was stymied by one of our civic organizations who will remain nameless. Every idea that I suggested was knocked down. I was told why I couldn’t do something rather than why I could. I quickly gave up and didn’t make any attempts at community volunteering here until last October when I participated in a planting along Greenpoint Avenue sponsored by the BID.
The turnout was tremendous. I saw that there were people who were interested in making a difference in the community. Maybe if I got involved I could help solve some of the problems in the neighborhood. And maybe I could get more people involved. The more people involved the more that can be done. I am using my group name as my byline because it is about my group and what we can get done as a group not about individual achievements.
So far things have not been easy. My efforts have been met with resistance. I have tried to get garbage cleaned up from the area on 43rd Avenue between 43rd and 46th street. I am working to have a mural painted next to the liquor store on 43rd street. I have a cleanup and education event scheduled for May 10 and a tree planting set up for October 4.
I’ve also filled out an application to get on the community board but have so far been thwarted by their mysterious selection process. I know it won’t be easy but I will not stop trying.
The moral of the story is that if someone like me who has never organized anything before can stand up and try and do something positive for the neighborhood that I live in so can anyone. We need to stop the complaining and the attacks on each other and get involved and try and do something positive.
I am looking to have an inclusive group that represents Sunnyside. Come out on Saturday May 10th at 10AM on 43d Street and 43d Avenue and lets clean up Sunnyside! We can’t solve all the problems but lets start somewhere. And maybe we can even bring back the bagel guy under the 7 line.
These are the opinions of R Blostin and not the Sunnysidepost.
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