Gotham Gazette

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Hanging Out and Hurting Business

Paros Apostolopoulos, an employee at a pastry restaurant on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, is used to hearing customers complain about teenagers who hang out in and around his shop.

“One time I had a table at the restaurant next door kids were so loud and the language so bad that the older couple just left. It could be nice if they had something else to do, some activities,” said Apostolopoulos, who has worked at the restaurant for two years.

Parents ask restaurant employees not to not to allow their children to be at the restaurant when they should be in school. But Apostolopoulos and other owners and workers at businesses along Third Avenue worry mainly that the young people will drive away other customers and hurt business.

Their concern is shared by establishments on Bay Ridge’s other commercial strip -- 13th avenue from 69th to 78th streets – and by stores and restaurants around the city. The issue has been discussed by Brooklyn’s Community Board 10, which includes part of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton. Regardless of whether the young people have a right to hang out, their presence can create a problem for businesses.


Conflicts and Resolutions

Police in the Schools:
A uniformed presence has made schools safer – but at what cost?

Hanging Out and Hurting Business:
Teens on the street scare away customers.

Breaking the Cycle of Violence:
A program in East New York tries to stop the mayhem by helping young people respect themselves.

Taking A.C.T.I.O.N. at The Point:
In Hunts Point, young people do not just complain about problems in their community, they try to solve them.

Cutbacks After School:
Reductions in government funds will force shutdowns of programs that keep young people active and occupied.

“We get complaints about large groups of kids hanging out on the commercial strips,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager for Community Board 10. “The complaints range from late night noise to acts of vandalism like graffiti.”

Ada Lin, an employee at Fujiyama Japanese restaurant on 73rd Street, said kids as young as 13 years old hang out in front of their store after school hours. Once, the owner called the police because he was worried that the young people might keep customers away.

“They treat the restaurant as a playground,” she said. “I don’t think there is another place that has more kids. But if they had more stuff to do, like activities for kids, I think they wouldn’t hang out here.”

Later at night, Rosa Pizzeria on the 13th Avenue stretch becomes a favorite and popular place for teenagers. Although this does not bother the employees, residents complain about the noise.

Brooklyn Community Board 10 has tried to find way to keep the teenagers occupied with age-appropriate activities. Beckmann said that the district has a program for middle school students that is open three times a week.

However, an afterschool program (see related story) aimed largely at younger students, at PS 170, faces cutbacks. Because of reductions in funding, the program which serves 220 youngsters, will have to reduce its slots for 60 to 80 youngsters, according to Christie Hodgkins, director of after-school services at CAMBA, which runs the program. In addition, a movie theater and bowling alley in the neighborhood have closed.

In response, the community board has voted to ask the parks department to allow teens to use two neighborhood parks with supervision at night “These programs are really needed in the district and in the neighborhoods since kids are looking for activities,” Beckmann said.


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