Greenwich Gossip

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

R.I.P. Greenwich Exxon

The former home of Greenwich Exxon--later known as Greenwich Gulf, and then as Greenwich "no-name"--ceased to exist today. Two bulldozers and a wrecking crew reduced it to rubble in a matter of hours. The service station--with a huge emphasis on the "service"--that had kept our cars fueled and running for decades is no more.

Owner Chris Canavan put in obscene hours nurturing and growing the business. He treated every customer as a friend, and it would be no exaggeration to talk of "the Greenwich Exxon family". Even his own daughters, Katie and Emily, could often be found behind the counters in recent years, as they, too, began to take pride of ownership in the business.

Chris fought like a tiger (the Exxon tiger) to retain control of the business and property he had managed for decades. But corporate sleaze won out, as it seems to do more and more these days. Eventually all channels of appeal ran out. Greenwich lost one of its oldest, and best, family-owned businesses.

And for what? Wait for it, dear reader. Another out-of-state bank branch. And not just any out-of-state bank: a Chase bank. There is a Chase bank a stone's throw to the west, next to Cosi. And another one two stones' throws east, next to Waterworks. And another three stones' throws away at the top of Greenwich Avenue. And yet another one four or five stones' throws away across from St. Mary's. And of course another still about eight stones' throws away just south of the Post Office.

Chase banks in the Town of Greenwich are like weeds. And, like weeds, they usurp the healthy, productive plants that used to grow in their place. Cos Cob is next on their hit list. And one doubts that they will stop there.

"It's just not fair. How can some people live with themselves?"

Thus Katie Canavan on her FaceBook page. No, Katie, it's not fair. I even went down to Town Hall two weeks ago to try to place a stay on the demolition. It turns out the new owners had lied on their demolition permit application, saying that the building had been constructed in 1970. I asked the Building Department to research this, and they found that the building had actually been constructed in 1948. But in order for a stay to be placed on the demolition, it would have had to have been built in 1940 or earlier. I missed out by 8 years. (But I did find out that the new owners had falsified their permit application.)

Your scribe has a humble suggestion: that we, the citizens of the Town of Greenwich, hereby resolve to boycott this new and totally unnecessary Chase bank branch. And ditto the one coming soon to Cos Cob, replacing the family restaurant Bella Nona. Maybe this way Chase CEO Jamie Dimon will get the message: don't mess with our local businesses here in Greenwich. You'll be sorry if you do.

But in the meantime, it's we, the citizens of Greenwich, who are the sorry ones. Chris, Katie, and Emily: thank you for all you have done for us as individuals, and for Greenwich as a community. We will continue to patronize you in your new locations. But we will not be quick to forgive J. P. Morgan Chase Bank for its ruthless robber-baron behavior so typical of J. P. Morgan himself. To quote Katie Canavan, one wonders how Jamie Dimon and his venal minions can live with themselves?

Well, karma will catch up with Chase and Dimon eventually, when there is a Chase bank on every street corner here in Greenwich, and people begin to pull their money out in order to support one of our local banks instead. Did these misguided greedy capitalists think they could buy the entire Town of Greenwich? Hah! Do we have news for them.

Your scribe cheerfully predicts that the new Chase branch at 111 West Putnam Avenue will have bad karma from its opening day onward. Sure, they will try to draw in new business with $100 bonuses, but any right-thinking citizen of this Town will give it a wide berth. And sooner or later it will be closed down--or perhaps the whole bank will simply implode from over-expansion--and it, too, will become a pile of rubble, just as Greenwich Exxon has become today. R.I.P., Greenwich Exxon. And thanks for the good memories.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Who Will Be Next?

The following letter was written by community volunteer Winona Mullis, and pretty much says it all about the mess over at the Senior Center:

Who Will Be Next?

The question many seniors at the Greenwich Senior Center are asking these days is “Who will be next?” First there was Keenan, a kind and gentle person, a tireless worker, pleasant to be with, always considerate of others, and highly esteemed by the seniors. Keenan left the Center one day and never returned to work. When inquiries were made to the staff, I was told that no one knew why he had left. Next was Barbara, who had worked at the Center for 25 years and was another devoted worker who spent her days with the seniors. Whether it was leading them in exercise, teaching a French class, monitoring a spelling bee or historical quiz, or just talking with a senior, Barbara’s presence was comforting and assuring.

This time, however, Barbara was given a 30 days’ notice.

For weeks, rumors abounded that staff had to be cut because of money issues and Barbara’s position would be terminated; however, she was given an option of applying for an upgraded position that had been reclassified from two part-time employees to one full-time employee, but she was not fully qualified. The position was then given to another part-time employee who had worked at the Center for several years.

For months, rumors circulated that Marva, the center’s chef would be leaving. Last November, a Commission on Aging member was approached about this rumor, but he positively denied that there was any basis for it. Marva was not going to be fired. At the May G.R.E.A.T.S.’ open meeting, the administrator, when questioned about Marva’s employment, stated that Marva was the only certified person in the kitchen; the other two employees were only assistants and not certified to manage the kitchen, and Marva was definitely needed and would not be leaving.

Because the Center had recently brought in the Morrison people to work with the kitchen staff, the question about Marva’s employment was brought before the group again at the June 8 G.R.E.A.T.S.’ open meeting. Again, the administrator assured us that Marva was still in charge of the kitchen and would not be leaving.

It was with great surprise that just ten days later, Marva was fired, we were then told that one of the other kitchen employees was now certified and would be in charge of the kitchen.

Seniors at the Center adapt well to change and they have done this in the past by silently accepting whatever decisions are made; however, this time, we will not go “silently into that good night.” Of what use is the G.R.E.A.T.S.’ Board if the officers and members cannot have some part in major decisions or at least be told the truth when major decisions are made.

I am appalled that we have people in charge who sit and make rules and changes from their desks and rarely are involved with the seniors in their daily activities. Allowing one or two people to make decisions that affect the seniors is undemocratic and hurtful to all, and it is time for changes to be made at the Senior Center. Will they be done openly and truthfully or will they be done stealthily and capriciously?

If I were any employee at the Center, I would definitely be asking. “Will I be next?”

Winona Mullis

Member G.R.E.A.T.S’ Board