Friday, 27 August 2010 00:00
The Board of Directors of the Westbury Business Improvement District (“B.I.D.”) wishes to respond to John Heslin’s “Letter to the Editor” entitled “Reconsider Street Fair on 9/11.” First, we express our sorrow and condolences for Mr. Heslin’s loss, and the loss experienced by many families as a result of the tragic acts of barbarism perpetrated on Sept. 11, 2001. We all have or know someone who lost a loved one, or someone who was left with emotional or physical scars on that horrific day. Despite the fact that the date of Sept. 11 will forever be remembered by the terrible events that took place, the BID Board and the members of the BID believe that it is not only appropriate that it hold its annual street fair this Sept. 11 and 12, but that by doing so, together with holding a memorial service to commemorate that day and those who perished, we honor their memory, and send a message, in a small way, to the cowards who would seek to change our American way of life.
The timing of Mr. Heslin’s letter is troubling. The date of the Annual Street Fair was set in April of this year, and has been advertised not only on our website, but in the Westbury Times, the B.I.D. newsletter, the Village of Westbury newsletter, and in mailings to all of the B.I.D. merchants, local religious organizations and community and civic organizations, as well as on posters in the kiosk in the Piazza on Post Avenue and Maple Avenue. The Westbury Carle Place Chamber of Commerce, of which John Heslin is a director, has two members who also serve as directors on the board of the Westbury B.I.D, and the street fair dates and planning have been discussed at every B.I.D. meeting since Feb. 2010. All decisions made relating to the fair have been by unanimous vote, and as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, our records are open and available. Another of the Chamber’s vice presidents has also been attending the BID meetings recently, and stated that each year the Chamber receives many phone calls asking for information regarding participating in or attending the fair, and that she would like the details of the street fair so that she can relay that information to those who inquire. We have complied with her request. Mr. Heslin could have also attended a BID meeting, as he has done in the past, to voice his concerns. The BID would like to extend a personal invitation to Mr. Heslin to attend a meeting of the BID Board of Directors, or meet with the Executive Board so that he may have direct dialogue with the BID, as opposed to using the media as an intermediary.
Mr. Heslin asks that merchants and residents “boycott” the fair, and criticizes the BID for selecting the dates. Ironically, the Chamber plans on attending the fair, on Sunday the 12th, by taking advantage of the BID’s annual offer of free space, as we do for all local service organizations. We should recall that our president has declared that Sept. 11 be dedicated as a “day of service” in the country, and we do so by promoting the good works of all the organizations that will be on display at the fair on those days. We point out that many other Long Island organizations are holding fairs, festivals, picnics, etc. on Sept. 11, 2010, including the Syosset Street Festival; the 15th Annual East Northport Festival (sponsored by the East Northport Chamber of Commerce); or HarborFest 2010 (sponsored by the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce), just to name a few. These organizations, like the BID chose to carry on and show the terrorists that we will not be forced to change our way of life.
We understand that some may feel differently, especially those personally touched by the loss of a loved one, but we would urge Mr. Heslin, and others, to reconsider their point of view and realize that the BID street fair is not an affront to the families affected, nor a sign of disrespect to the memory of what took place that day.
In his letter, Mr. Heslin “begs” us to reconsider our decision to change the date of the street fair and memorial service from Sept. 11, 2010. We choose instead to show the terrorists who perpetrated the horrific acts on 9/11 that we not only remember, but that we ceremoniously honor those lost, those injured and those who continue to fight for us while we move forward with our lives. In our great country we all have the freedom to spend this day, and every other day of remembrance, memorializing in our own way. We will never forget FORGET!
We sincerely hope that the community will join with us for our memorial service, and street fair.