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It was supposed to be Doubleday meets Bill Gates in a cyber-age kickoff to the first baseball season of the new millennium. Theoretically, at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, Mets fans were supposed to be able to sit at their keyboards and buy Mets tickets over the Internet. With wind chills below zero, this sounded a lot better than standing in line at Shea Stadium.
It didn't quite happen the way it was planned. The Mets computer choked. Online ticket seekers still dressed in their robes and slippers who faithfully punched in Mets.com never got to first base. People who tried buying tickets over the phone or at ticket kiosks throughout the city were equally disappointed. At $37 for a box seat, the Mets organization could have done better. Actually, they could hardly have done worse.
It's hard, if not impossible, to believe that the club did not anticipate the volume of online ticket seekers. We also assume that the computer whiz who sold them this system knew that it couldn't handle the heat. Why, we wonder, didn't they invest in a computer and web site that was up to the task?
Having diehard fans get frostbite while waiting in long lines in the middle of January makes good footage for the 5 o'clock news, but it doesn't show much appreciation for the loyal fans who have stuck by the Mets through good and bad times.
Stop us if we're wrong. The way we see it, the reason Home Depot wants to open yet another superstore in Queens - this time on Woodhaven Boulevard -- is because the existing stores are doing tremendous business and the reason these stores are busy is because they are filling a need. One might expect the community and its leaders to welcome the new store.
That, of course, is not the case. Elected officials and at least some members of Community Board 6 are opposed to the store and are incensed that it may remain open 24 hours a day. Although the store is being built on one of the busiest boulevards in Queens, they are concerned about the impact on nearby residential neighborhoods. They are particularly worried about cars, trucks and tractor-trailers rumbling in at all hours of the night. It's a legitimate concern.
It would be unfortunate if community leaders in attempting to protect their constituents failed to see that stores such as Home Depot have been a shot in the arm to the economy of New York City. For years, the people of Queens traveled to Nassau County to do their shopping. The tremendous success of the superstores is proof enough that the public welcomes them.
We have also seen that the superstores have revitalized neighboring businesses.
Some members of the community have threatened to demonstrate and even block the streets if the Forest Hills Home Depot tries to stay open 24 hours. We doubt that will happen and we hope it won't. Rather than grandstanding and making threats, these community leaders should be working behind the scenes to work with Home Depot to develop plans that will avoid disruption on residential streets. This didn't happen when the Flushing store was built and the lack of planning resulted in traffic jams and bruised nerves.
The bottom line is that continued economic development is good for Queens and with a little cooperation it does not have to be a hardship for the neighbors. There is a price that comes with progress, but there is a bigger price when there is no progress.
©2000 Community Newspaper Group
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