Letters to the Editor

Bum rap, indeed!

Metro Times published a piece entitled "Bum Rap" (March 18), subtitled "Longstanding grocery store is a skid row meet-and-greet," written by someone named "Detroitblogger John." We who are neighbors or work in the neighborhood would like to take issue with the basic premise underlying the article — namely that it's Tom Boy owner Jitu Patel who is beleaguered by a rough neighborhood. Many of us feel that we are the victims of an owner who neither practices good business sense nor decent community relations.

Mr. Patel's business caters to the street traffic around Tom Boy. He's basically running an inner-city party store with some very questionable products and he does not take steps to get rid of the vagrants, dealers and users who populate his corner. Ask the owner of University Foods on Warren Avenue and the Lodge, or the owner of Marcus Market on Second Avenue and Prentis, if it's possible to run a respectable grocery business in this neighborhood. It is and they do. They simply will not tolerate loiterers and drug dealers in front of their stores.

Within a block of Tom Boy there are six recently completed building renovations that have added more than 50 homeowners to the neighborhood. They have joined many other long-term residents, renters and owners, who are committed to the rich culture and diversity that urban living affords residents. Within a block and a half are many Detroit gems, including the Canfield Historic District, Orchestra Hall and neighborhood staples such as the Traffic Jam, Mario's and the Avalon Bakery. That suggests that one of the obstacles to residents enjoying safe and clean streets is Tom Boy itself and not the other way around.

Your writer describes the neighborhood as "... a checkerboard of weathered Victorian houses and old apartment buildings, from which the infirm, the criminal and the addled trickle forth every day to gather at his doorstep." While this might describe Tom Boy's loiterers, it is a very inaccurate description of the community surrounding it. In reality, many neighbors are well-educated professionals who have been residents for decades. In fact, these neighbors pitch in to clean up needles, excrement and trash several times a year. Mr. Patel has been specifically asked in community meetings to remove the awning that shelters loiterers and has not responded to efforts to help eliminate graffiti and blight. Those of us who have helped to build a strong sense of community are outraged by the impact Tom Boy's loiterers have on our neighborhood.

Finally, who is "Detroitblogger John?" Is this journalism to write such a one-sided assessment of a true neighborhood problem and slander a neighborhood — incorrectly and anonymously? Metro Times, your standards are usually higher than that. —Bridget K. Tuohey, Detroit, co-signed by Jeffrey Montgomery, Cindy Furkovich, Troy Adam, Winifred A. Maguire, Kathleen E. Carney, Brian Bliss, Christina Bliss, David P. Turner, Ann F. Turner, Steven D. Hill, Scott B. Phillips, M.D., Karin M. Phillips, James Chambers, James P. Carney and Ralph C. Simpson

Send letters (250 words or less, please) to 733 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226; faxes to 313-961-6598; e-mail to [email protected]. Please include your telephone number for verification. We reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and libel.

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