Residents fight “adult toy” store – and win

May 29, 2013 Denise Romano
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They fought the store – and they won!

On Friday, May 17, some Sunset Park residents noticed an unsavory sight on Fifth Avenue near 56th Street, a giant bright yellow awning with the words “Adult Sex Toys” written on it.

“I was walking up the block with my two young boys [when I noticed it],” said Sunset Park resident Lisa Velez-Estrella. “This is a block with families. There is a dancing school next door that young girls go into.”

Velez-Estrella and several of her neighbors, including Craig Gabrian, owner of Young Dancers in Repertory, which is located right next door to the racy shop, contacted Councilmember Sara Gonzalez’s office; her staffers went to the site the very next day.

“They [the business owners] peeled all the letters off of the sign,” Velez-Estrella said, adding that the garish yellow awning is still up.

Gonzalez said that she began reaching out to various city agencies and officials to rectify the “objectionable condition.” On Friday, May 24, she met with the owner.

“She offered assurances that not only would the ‘sex toys’ business not open, but neither would any adult entertainment establishment nor any business in the community might find objectionable,” Gonzalez said. “Hearing that, I promised the owner that I stood ready to assist as needed when problems arose to help navigate the bureaucracy just as I would with any business in my district that was seeking to become a responsible, good neighbor of our small business community.

“I applaud the owner for making this change,” she concluded.

“Getting the word out so the community is aware of what’s going on will hopefully keep this from happening again,” added Velez-Estrella, “and will keep our neighborhood safe.”

The future use of the location has not yet been determined.

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