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I am perplexed by the tone and substance of a recent letter from John Cromwell, president of the West Side Neighborhood Congress, about the closing of the Club Utica, a long-time and popular West Side tavern.

Instead of putting any credence in the owner's view that the Club Utica's difficulties in recent years stem in part from growing social problems in the neighborhood, Mr. Cromwell scolds the owner for even suggesting such a thing, notwithstanding the fact that these problems are hardly a secret. While it is commendable that, as Mr. Cromwell says, people in the neighborhood are banding together to try to solve their problems, this does not refute the fact that crime and poverty now affect many area businesses and residents in very concrete ways.

Not every business owner in the City of Buffalo is like Michael Attardo or Mark Goldman. Most, like the owner of the Club Utica, don't have the inclination or ability to be visionaries or community activists. That is their right. Instead, they simply try to live their lives, run their businesses and contribute as well as they know how. They are some of our most precious, underappreciated resources.

The passing of these quiet, mainstay businesses -- like the Club Utica -- show us that we still have work to do and a way to go before Buffalo is back on the right track.


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