My Take on The Whole "Development v. Neighborhood Preservation" Issue

If you've ever gone to a Community Board meeting - and chances are, you haven't - then you'd know that there's a growing divide between those who feel that neighborhoods should be totally preserved, and those who feel that neighborhoods should change with the influx of new residents.

(There I am, yappin', and yappin' at CB15, and probably not saying much!)

Actually you don't need to go to a Community Board meeting to know this, but if you did, you'd see that the tension is palpable.

And it's all over the place - Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Homecrest... and each neighborhood has their own story. But in all of them, neighbor is pitted against neighbor.

Let's get my personal view out of the way - although I have vocally in favor of preserving my neighborhood, I do so in the face of what I believe is haphazard development with no real plan and no regard for the infrastructure in the neighborhood. I am NOT against properly planned development that doesn't tax infrastructure, and doesn't harm immediate neighbors.

Translation, I believe that there's gotta be a middle ground. And in that spirit, I have a lot to say to both sides.

To those who believe in neighborhood preservation: I get it, things are great the way they are, and people should conform to how things are. But is that really what you want? If nothing changes, well... then nothing changes. Life becomes stale and stagnant. There's no growth, no differing opinions, no progress. Yes, things are good the way they are, but things can always be improved, and we should all strive towards progress and improvement, shouldn't we?

You need to get off that high horse and stop crusading. Not every home is a landmark, and not all change is bad. Get to know your new neighbors, and instead of questioning why a homeowner needs an extra bedroom (which frankly is none of your business), welcome them and engage them as much as you can. You might even make a friend!

To those who think that neighborhoods were meant to be changed: You think I just made the argument for you, right? WRONG. You see, you can go too far as well. I gotta think that you came to a given neighborhood for a reason - probably because you like the neighborhood and what it offers. So why change it radically? Why not integrate yourself into the neighborhood before you decide to alter it? Get involved in local activities - hell, just get to know your neighbors! You may find that things, for the most part, are just peachy.

You may also find that if you are good to your neighbors, change is more likely to be embraced than protested. You need to remember that just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do something. I mean, do you want to be the family that everyone on the block hates because you had dumpsters and construction workers blocking the street for weeks so you can have a house that sticks out like a sore thumb?

I mean honestly, do you think anyone should have to live with a monstrosity like this one next to them? (Thanks Cliff for giving the photo scale!)

See a common theme? Both sides have to take John, Paul, George and Ringo's advice and "come together" somehow. If it's only a case-by-case basis, then great! It's a start. But the leaders of both factions need to come to some kind of understanding.

Easier said than done, I know. I mean, there's all kinds of barriers besides your views on building. There are most likely cultural differences and stereotypes, religious divides, and other schisms. I for one didn't talk to a friend for months because he said the Mets suck, so I know how hard compromise can be!

And on a side note, next year is our year!

But for the sake of everyone involved, it has to be done. That is, unless you plan on surrounding your house with barbed wire fencing and posting gun turrets on every corner, or you like being a small minded shut-in that interacts with no one but "your own kind".

And if either is the case, you probably shouldn't come by here so often...

Let's get started building more than just structures.

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