Op-Led: Stand Up and Be Counted

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Dyckman Street - Washington Heights

Okay, here is the situation. Tonight, there will be a public hearing at the Isabella Geriatric Center (515 Audubon Ave) at 7 pm to discuss “nightlife-related matters”. If you enjoy not having to trek downtown for fine dining, or if you enjoy having great establishments in your very own backyard or if you are one of the hundreds of people employed by these establishments that are being rallied against, then it is absolutely imperative that you attend this meeting tonight.

Like I have said in the past, there is a small but organized cadre of what I like to call “semi-professional agitators” that want to put an end to the business and cultural Renaissance taking place Uptown. They have decided that you are too noisy, too uncouth and simply do not deserve such amenities. They know the right people to call, who to send letters to and the right buttons to push and they will get their way if you don’t stand up and be counted.

It is that simple. Let your voice be heard or others who are not truly representative of this neighborhood will decide the fate of our beautiful Uptown. In all honesty, I think it is insulting that we are viewing these establishments through the prism of them being public nuisances. They have quite simply revitalized Dyckman Street and the surrounding area. They have invested their time, money, energy and resources to make Washington Heights and Inwood a better place and a go to destination for those seeking culture, coolness and cuisine and they have been met by a veritable witch-hunt by a small minority of people that want to call the shots in the neighborhood.

I take a long view of the changes taking place in this community; this is what Michael Massing had to say about Uptown in the NY Times in 1989, “so much business is transacted on these streets that Washington Heights has gained a reputation as the crack capital of America.” Contrast to what is taking place in the community today we are in a good place and we cannot allow a select few to change that. With that said, I will end this missive with a quote of unknown origin, “you’re either at the table or on the menu”.

There is strength in numbers!

Pa’Lante Siempre Pa’Lante

Isabella Geriatric Center
515 Audubon Ave.
New York, NY 10040
7 p.m.

For more info: http://facebook.com/events/publichearing/

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  • MD Sane
    May 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    STAND UP!!

    • Michael Carozza
      May 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm

      I had been living on the corner of Dyckman and Payson for four years. I wouldn’t have a problem with these establishments if they closed at a reasonable hour and were willing to work with the community.Unfortunately, establishments like Cafe Mamajuana just pay lip service to community complaints. In January, I met with the owner of Cafe Mamajuana regarding my complaints of loud music late at night and the loud drunken altercations that often occurred after they closed at 4am. At that time,Mr.Santos stated that he would have a limiter installed on the sound system by the end of January. By the time I left in May,there was no appreciable change in the noise level. At that time, I also discussed the possibility of them ceasing to serve alcohol at 3am instead of 3:30. His response was that they would lose too much money. Establishments such as Cafe Mamajuana,Papasito and La Marina seem to show no concern for the welfare of the hard working people who live in and around Dyckman street.

  • David Thom
    May 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I am not a “semi-professional agitator”. I have never before attended any meeting or filed any complaint about these restaurants. From lunch till midnight they are terrific places that everyone should be glad to have around. But I will attend the meeting tonight because I do not care to be labelled as “not truly representative of this neighborhood” and because things have gotten out of hand.

    To give just one example, La Marina has a clear license agreement with the Parks Dept. It has violated many parts of that agreement without repercussion, leading to events that have been too noisy, too late and too large.

    No one is against restaurants, no one is against improvements to quality of life (which is what you are inferring by the reduction in the drug trade). But people can and should have a problem with businesses that say one thing and then do another and go against the rules and norms we are all supposed to live by.

    It is that simple.

    • admin
      May 9, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      David – my apologies if you took offense to my column, that was not my intention and while I was not referring to you specifically I honestly believe that there exists a lunatic fringe that wants to simply shut down everything. I can tell by your comments that you are not part of the group I was referring to. Thanks for commenting though and I will see you at tonight’s meeting.


  • Cecil Turtle
    May 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm


  • RoughAcres
    May 9, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    There are abrasive people and voices on both “sides” of this issue.

    Most people in WaHI are enjoying having great restaurants and a ‘hot spot’ like La Marina; but most people don’t live over or near them. Many of those who do, also have to live/sleep with the spillover in the wee hours of the morning: cars parked/double-parked/honking/playing loud music… revelers reveling in loud, alcohol-enhanced voices… motorcycle engines being revved… public urination. And the increase in vehicular traffic – for which the DOT did not plan – associated with La Marina is both a health and safety factor which cannot be ignored this summer.

    Perhaps we can find solutions together. Let us not go into this meeting with our minds made up to “defend” a position we truly can’t… or to make accusations we cannot truly defend. Let’s work together.

  • George Fernandez
    May 9, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Good afternoon, my name is George Fernandez Jr. I am the Chair of Community Board 12 Manhattan. I have had the opportunity to follow the conversations that are being exchanged via facebook, instagram and this article.

    For the record, Commuity Board 12 Manhattan is in support of our local businesses and we are not trying to put anyone out of business.

    This public hearing is not aimed a particular business or businesses and should not be interpreted this way. Neither are we rallying against anyone or business.

    This hearing is to discuss the “Night Life” through out Washington Heights and Inwood. I will also ask for those who plan on attending tonight’s meeting to understand that this is a peaceful gathering. Not a place to attack, be rude or disrespectful to anyone.

    Our Hope is that through this process we will find solutions and work together for the summer is upon us. I thank you for your time and consideration in the aforemntioned.