I was at the meeting about the proposed Newtown Avenue plaza. Not many of you were, I couldn't help but notice. Anywhere, there were about 80 people there. And I would say a slight majority was against.
The anti-change group were a rabble of loutish rude rich Greeks representing United Brothers, Key Foods, and the residential building next door, which I hear is owned by the richest man in Astoria (who knew?). The United Brothers folk also own the Bargain Stop building (who knew?).
They shouted at and interrupted those who supported the plan (who were not as well organized). It was like the Greek mafia in action. I like that Astoria is like a Greek village, but I've always been treated well in Greek villages. These villagers need to learn some urban manners!
But here's where the cognitive dissonance kicks in. The Pistillis (2nd richest Astorians) support the project. They were not at the meeting.
They may be slum lords and have a horrible taste is architecture, but they're not fools! They want to open a restaurant in their ugly new building on Newtown Avenue and want a better avenue. But I don't like the Pistillis. Being on their side makes my head hurt.
Amazingly, I heard the guy who runs the take-out coffee-to-go on 32nd Street is against the plaza?
How can a guy who only sells coffee to go be against a place for people to sit and drink his friggin' coffee?! You think his arm isn't being twisted by the Greeks?
Anyway, those against change are afraid of losing seven parking spaces and having the potential for riff-raff to congregate. The fact that this could actually make the neighborhood nicer? Doesn't seem to cross their mind.
Now I'm going to keep supporting all the rude store owners because I like their stores, but maybe I'll give an little extra business to Mohammed Yafai, manager of Blue Moon convenience store on 30th Avenue. He said, courtesy of DNAinfo: "We don't need more parking spaces," he said. "We need more space for people."