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What is happening in North Buffalo? Are we suddenly being targeted for seedy businesses like bars with topless dancers and salons offering hot-oil rubs?

A few months ago, our concerns as city residents were mainly burglary and property crimes -- about making our streets safe. Now, from out of the blue, comes a new predator: sexual industry.

Of course, North Buffalo is looking for businesses, like any part of the city. But look again at Hertel Avenue. Antique shops, restaurants and other specialty stores are found up and down the street. Hertel is not begging for sleaze.

Hertel is a residential as well as a business area. Families live on Hertel. There is a day-care center half a block from the topless bar called the Colonie Lounge, and a senior citizens apartment house nearby. People walk to the bank, the supermarket and to their houses. School buses drop off students at the corner of this bar.

How do we explain to our children why this establishment is in their neighborhood? They are already being bombarded with sexual images on TV and in advertisements.

My 9-year-old daughter asks me why women on TV are wearing their underwear. How can I answer a question like that? When she and her friend were walking down Hertel the other day, they went around the block to avoid this bar.

My 15-year-old son delivers newspapers on the side street adjacent to the club. He is there every day around 5 p.m. and then returns to collect in the evening. Am I wrong to want to shield him from an establishment where customers are drinking and leering at half-naked women?

Of course, sexual material can be obtained from publications, the Internet and friends. But there is a difference here.

Live people in action are not virtual reality -- this is the real thing. This enterprise has no business in a residential neighborhood where so many impressionable children live.

Hertel is reviving and changing its image. It has become a more cultured, family-oriented area. If we are going to take back our neighborhoods and our city, we cannot allow these kinds of businesses in residential neighborhoods.

Kate Demerle Buffalo

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