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Larchmont Umbrella Sales, OK; Banners & Street Closings, Maybe Not

A good portion of the Monday, May 10 meeting of the Larchmont Village Board focused on local businesses. Responding to concerns and complaints about the look of Larchmont’s many empty stores, Mayor Josh Mandell announced formation of a Business District Improvement Committee and put out a call for volunteers.

The board also acted – with varying degrees of support – to requests from local businesses to hold special sale events.

Also at the Board:

To give a boost to buying locally, Ellie Davidow from the Larchmont Chamber of Commerce requested permission to put up banners across Palmer Avenue and across the Post Office announcing Umbrella Sales Days in Larchmont, June 3, 4, and 5 with rain date June 7. Since there is currently an ordinance against banners strung across streets, the board denied this request but gave permission to hold the Umbrella sales, where discounted merchandise will be displayed on sidewalks outside stores.

Mayor Mandell asked that future requests of this sort be made before the public meeting to give the board a chance to review any laws related to action sought.

Another idea to give support to local businesses and create a strong community identity came from Polly Kreisman, editor of the Loop, and Melissa Perez, owner with her family of Tequila Sunrise and España restaurants. They are sponsoring an event with music and food to be held the evening of June 3, in conjunction with the first day of umbrella sales. They requested permission to close off all or part of Larchmont Avenue in front of those restaurants for the evening. This plan met with resistance, largely from Trustee Marlene Kolbert.

“The police chief has already told us that he is not prepared to close the whole street,” said Ms. Kolbert. He also was opposed to closing one lane, which he viewed as a safety hazard. Ms. Kolbert expressed additional concern about paying overtime for extra police that would be required, particularly after Ms. Kreisman indicated she would be be sponsoring a Bastille Day celebration on July 14 (corrected), which would entail another street closing.

“We don’t want to discourage people from doing things but we are extremely mindful of all our costs for them,” said Ms. Kolbert.

“It’s up to you,” countered Ms. Kreisman. “If you want the people in the village to have a sense of community and all have their businesses seen after hours versus a few hours of overtime, that’s the choice you’ll have to make.”

Trustees Richard Ward and Jaine Eney expressed support for the event and tried to suggest other alternatives. However, since the police need to be consulted, the mayor said the board will confer with the chief and take the issue up again next week at a work session.

“We’ll hold the event anyway, even if it’s inside the restaurants,” said the clearly disappointed Ms. Kreisman. In parting, she mentioned Mamaroneck Avenue would be closed for three Thursday nights this summer. “I guess they have more community pride in Mamaroneck than we do in Larchmont,” she said.

“Oh, we have plenty of community pride in Larchmont,” replied Mayor Mandell.

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26 comments to Larchmont Umbrella Sales, OK; Banners & Street Closings, Maybe Not

  • next town over

    Maybe Polly Kreisman would be happier living in Mamaroneck

  • The resistance from some members of the Board to sponsored community events was disappointing. The Mayor was sufficiently concerned about their response to us at the Board that he quickly called and scheduled a special meeting. Details to come in theLoop.

  • Bastille day is the 14 July by the way.:) (and we do live, happily, in TOM)

  • Villager

    The village board is very concerned about noise, police ot, maintenance ot to clean up their mess. I support & applaud Marlene for upholding quality of life in Larchmont. Since when do self-serving businesses have the right to invade residents’ streets for their gain? If anything I will not support the loop, tequila or auray again since they cannot respect the rights of residents. And yes Polly et al should move to Mamaroneck Ave. and hold court there. That’s where they belong. Not in our quiet community. Tequila already had their Cinco de Mayo event with kids, noise & mess all over Larchmont Ave. late into the evening without permission from the village-they already over stepped the boundaries. Drunks on Larchmont Ave. sidewalks & streets looks very bad for our community. Auray Gourmet was noisy & messy also last year for Bastille Day-they are not even French so how does this make sense? How much do residents tolerate businesses in it for only their gain before pushing back? These events do not benefit the Village of Larchmont and only create discord. Polly Kreisman does not even live in the village of Larchmont so why isn’t she supporting businesses in her Town of Mamaroneck?

  • pobo

    Villager what are you really angry about? As a resident of TOM, and a patron of village businesses, I don’t think the way to fill those empty storefronts is to demand only residents be allowed to shop there. Part of what makes Larchmont (and the TOM) so appealing is our downtown community – and it is definitly less appealing without the interesting and varied shops we used to have. Instead of getting angry, maybe we should all try to look for constructive solutions to ways to keep our downtown vital and attractive. Events are one way to do it – the type, location and expense for those events should all be open for discussion.

  • Anon E Mous

    A simple lesson: ‘If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately.’ – Thomas Payne

  • Villager

    pobo there is nothing wrong with businesses succeeding. We of course all want our communities to thrive but examine the circumstances. Larchmont Avenue is not Mamaroneck Avenue. It has not only homes on & off the side streets but many apartments above these businesses as well. We all have to respect one another when living in such close proximity. Tequila Sunrise has caused many problems to residents with late night noise and Cinco de Mayo is one example. There is also garbage, cigarette butts, beer cans and liquor bottles scattered along our streets. This is only part of the complicated equation. To close down our streets for 2 separate businesses at 2 different times causes inconvenience for many. Our village does not gain anything from these events except additional overtime we as residents end up paying for clean up, police, etc. The Loop, Auray Gourmet & Tequila Sunrise are pocketing all of the money. Other businesses in close proximity to them did not want to get involved so please tell me how this is benefitting them also? And yes I totally agree we need to encourage better types of businesses other than food & alcohol. There is no reason to come to Larchmont other than to eat & drink. How long do you think that will carry us in this economy. Let’s all work & try to improve the types of businesses we wish to draw & succeed in our beautiful village.

  • pobo

    Villager, thanks for the reply. I was really addressing the tone of your earlier comments. You seemed really angry. I don’t know if this kind of event is right for Larchmont, but I am troubled by the quick “no”. After all, it’s only for a few hours. A list of concerns which could be addressed would be a more positive way to deal with this request. And if the concerns can’t be addressed satisfactorily, then it doesn’t go forward.

  • Villager

    No tone intended pobo. Just real concerns from real people. 2 requests for after hours from Polly Kreisman was a bit much since the Auray event alone was not appreciated by residents either. There are ways such as our Umbrella Sale Days to have events during business hours. Not into the evening and not on our streets. If they don’t want to participate in the Sidewalk Sale then they are passing up an opportunity to liven up this yearly event given by the village for the idea of bringing business to the village. This is the way to help the village prosper, not by having your own money making event infringing on others who don’t want their streets closed down for self promotion. Our streets are very busy and common sense needs to be addressed. Just the other night there was another of many accidents that happened at the bottom of Larchmont Ave. & Gilder St. Everyone needs to think about respect, safety & what is best for the village & it’s residents. That’s all I’m saying.

  • pobo

    Understood. Thanks for the respectful communication.

  • Villager

    Just one more thing. When Polly Kreisman spoke in such a disrespectful manner to the board and Marlene Kolbert in particular don’t you think she should have been more polite when asking residents & the board that governs them to close streets down for her & others gains? She was very rude and as far as I can see she deserves a big NO for her inability to be respectuful to others. Yes–that is my mad :< ( tone! Let's hope for better days ahead for our village and get some real brainstorming put to use! Cheers to you! I for one am ready to roll up my sleeves.

  • ChatsworthCharlie

    What about using the parking lot at the train station that the farmers market so successfully uses? Does this event *have* to be right at the stores on Larchmont Avenue? What about the stores in the rest of Larchmont? We’re all local and we all know where these businesses are. With the parking lot, a lot more space is available, and quite an event could be held. Marketed correctly, this could bring much needed money from outside the community, and we wouldn’t have to worry about the logistics of shutting down one of our main streets.

    Why stir the pot when a more than viable alternative is available?

  • Villager

    Great point ChatsworthCharlie!!! I had suggested that or Flint Park last year for Auray’s event but no go. Other businesses would probably want to get involved if it were at the trains station-it’s more of a common ground and as you said much larger with plenty of parking. No street closures or traffic to worry about. It would then truly become a community event for all businesses and all people.

    • Groundhog Day

      They could also think about renting the Chatsworth schoolyard (which would provide ample space, not block the sidewalks, and is in close proximity to the businesses in question). The businesses could pay a facilities fee to Chatsworth (good for the school), there would be a large, contained area in which to hold the festivities without closing streets or blocking sidewalks (good for the community), and the Village could ask the businesses to pay for all or a portion of the overtime expenses. Sounds like it would be win-win-win — for the businesses, the school, and the community.

  • pobo

    I wasn’t at the meeting, so I was unaware of Polly’s behavior. Trying to do an event in another location sounds like a great idea.

  • DR

    Villager said, “Since when do self-serving businesses have the right to invade residents’ streets for their gain?”

    Well, you know, some people would love to see every sidewalk like the area in front of Chat 19, where they reduce the pedestrian lanes to about 4 feet wide and have the waiters strutting around, serving people from the sidewalk and reducing the area you can walk in to one single “lane”.

    In their visions, the booze would be flowing all the time and the shouts of La Dolce Vita would be echoing everywhere. It is interesting how few of these people actually live within the Village of Larchmont.

    • Anon E Mous

      With narrow minds and wide waists, we blame the sidewalks and absentee landlords, as we gaze at the ghostliness of empty storefronts and bemoan the lost business property tax revenue.

      Hopefully, we’ll learn to think wider and wiser before time runs short and the problem expands.

      There’s a reason why every human society has fiction. It teaches us how to be ‘good,’ to behave in a way that is for the benefit of the whole community. – Orson Scott Card

      • Sushi Says

        Please Mr. AnonEMous, speak for yourself on the wide waistline descriptive. The narrow minds, I take less offense at….lol!!

        BTW, you may substitute the word “religion” in lieu of “fiction” from your quote. It flows and it works just as well, don’t you think??

        -SS ;-)

        • Anon E Mous

          Sorry Sushi, but DR’s complaint about the narrowing space on the sidewalk to 4 feet just gave rise to questions about why some complain rather than think ;-) Perhaps should have referred to ‘waste’ lines as heard that a mind is a terrible thing to to waste. And thank you for the suggestion on the quote. :)

  • other side of the tracks

    Well, Mamaroneck Avenue also has a mix of residential dwellings coexisting with their businesses. Apartments are above most store fronts. I’ve lived in Mamaroneck village for over 40 years and have worked in Larchmont for over 20. I am constantly amazed by this exact mentality. Villager, we would welcome supporting businesses over here on our side of the tracks, but not in an effort to keep YOUR village “beautiful”. Please find a way to deal with your own stuff without even metaphorically sending it over here.

  • Villager

    No need to be hostile other side of the tracks. Mamaroneck Avenue is huge in contrast to Larchmont Ave. There is no comparison. Larchmont Ave. does not have the same number of stores nor the space for them. It is more residential than commercial where Larchmont Ave. has rows of stores on both sides in one area.

    What does this statement mean other side of the tracks?
    “Villager, we would welcome supporting businesses over here on our side of the tracks, but not in an effort to keep YOUR village “beautiful”.
    You did say you work here?

    • Sushi Says

      Sounds like “the other side of the tracks” has a Hatfield vs. McCoy mentality. After 40 years of being a Mam’k resident as he/she states, I guess it has not yet sunk in that we are all ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY – as in Community!!!

      Beautifying Mamaroneck is no less or more important than Beautifying Larchmont. Especially if you talk to the contingency of folks who live in the Unincorporated Town of Mamaroneck and who have a Larchmont land mail address.

      No reason to set up a “you’s” and “mine” mentality. It’s divisive rather than Co-OPERATIVE!!!!

      Now, if you want to talk about the best place to buy sushi, that’s another story. But we’re talking about our community of neighbors….so let’s keep it neighborly please!

  • Private sector the answer

    The answer for empty shops is not in events, although they are a fine idea and a contribution to the answer from a promotions perspective. The answer is in the entrepreneur seeing an opportunity in our area and then investing. If there are specific businesses willing to invest but are unable due to regulatory or some form of anti competitive constraint (e.g. anti competitive rents) then these issues need to be addressed. If there is a market in Larchmont and surrounds, and the entrepreneur deems that they can profit then they will. If for some reason the cost and/or other barriers make it unprofitable to invest then they won’t. So, what are the constraints for investors and how can these be addressed? Events may be good for promoting the town but alone they won’t promote investment.

  • pobo

    Private sector – actually, the answer is in Albany. Apparently there is something in the tax code which makes it advantageous to leave your storefront space unoccupied instead of lowering the rent and attracting a tenant. How do we tell when the public sector ends and the private begins or vice versa?

  • Private sector the answer

    If the answer is in the Tax Code then the issue is to find the specific article. If the article is in fact creating an incentive for commercial properties to remain vacant then this is not in the best interest of the village or state. Obviously is should not be in the best interest of the owner either. To change a Tax Code is not impossible but takes time. If rents are high in the village then it would be interesting to get the perspective of the local real estate agents. They would have a good handle on why and why not investors are staying away. If rents are uncompetitive compared to the immediate area then this should enable the village to consult with owners on a possible solution. Addressing the tax code and negotiating with owners on rent may be two options. However investors rarely make choices based on taxes alone. What other underlying issues exist in the village that make entrepreneurs careful about investing? The answer is likely to be found in consulting directly with all the stores that exist and some that have gone.

  • pobo

    I was told this by a TOM Councilman – it would not surprise me if this tax code rule came into effect at a time when business was very slow and it was difficult to rent – a way to help the small business/landowner survive. Things don’t often make sense! I only have ancedoctal info regarding rents and landlords unwilling to work with viable tenants, but your suggestion of getting good information would make sense – something for the Village of Larchmont to undertake, or the Chamber of Commerce? I think we all agree about the problem (empty storefronts) – now we have to determine the cause(s) and develop appropriate strategies.