Editorial: We’ll miss you, Ben

By The TimesLedger

After 68 years of doing business on Bell Boulevard in Bayside, Ben Fried and his son Jack are getting ready to close the doors forever at Benn’s hardware. When they do, the boulevard will never be the same.

It is hard – darn near impossible – to imagine Bayside without this store and, indeed, without Ben and Jack. The store has been a fixture in Bayside. Scores of stores have opened and closed on the boulevard in the nearly seven decades since Ben first opened shop here. But Benn’s Hardware never faltered because Ben knew what it takes to make a small business succeed.

His success was built on service. If you needed a whatchamacallit to fix a sink or a squeaky screen door, Ben and Jack could be counted on to steer you in the right direction. Ben didn’t worry about Home Depot or any other store because he knew that they couldn’t touch him when it came to service. Ben and Jack also made certain to keep their store stocked with a wide variety of household needs.

But their business was only half the story. Ben and Jack believe it is their duty to return something to the community that put bread on their table.

“Many years ago we felt that being a merchant in the community meant that it was our obligation to help the community, to not just reap the benefits,” said Jack. “You have to not only take from the community but to give back, and we’re going to keep doing it.”

And they sure did. Ben was a founding member of the Bell Boulevard Merchants Association. Both have served on the 111th Precinct Community Council. The younger Fried has served for 23 years on the local community board. And each year the pair plays a critical roll in organizing the annual Holiday Parade on Bell Boulevard.

The good news is that Jack says he and his father will continue to take an interest in the Bayside community. Still, Bayside without Benn’s Hardware – it’s unthinkable.

Editorial: Grownups not welcome

Has it really come to this? At the Juniper Valley Park playground in Middle Village, new signs read, “No adults admitted without the company of a child.”

We have no doubt that the signs were installed with the best intentions. But it appears to us that banning childless adults from a public park raises serious constitutional questions.

The civic leaders who asked for the signs say they are a “safeguard.” We can think of half a dozen legitimate reasons why an adult who does not have children might want to sit near a playground, if for no other reason, just to hear the laughter of the children.

What led to such drastic measures? As far as we know, there has not been a rash of incidents in which children were abducted from the city's parks and playground. An adult innocently sitting in a park playground should not be harassed.

On the other hand, the city has every right to ask adults to take a hike if they are acting in an inappropriate manner. Case in point: the winos who hang out in the Poppenhusen Playground on 20th Avenue in College Point. They arrive early in the morning and remain until late in the evening and spend the whole day drinking booze from a plain brown bag. These bums should be shown the exit.

But that does not justify banning all adults without children.

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