Is a tattoo parlor and skateboard shop good for the center of West Haven or not? The merchants downtown don’t think so according to the article last week in the Register. I’m not so sure I agree with them.
A Pew Research Poll done in 2010 states that 23% of people in this country have a tattoo. That’s just about one out of every four people. It breaks out by age like this: 18-29: 38%; 30-45: 32%; 46-64: 15%; 65+: 6%. The number of people with tattoos has grown exponentially in the past few years. One trip to the beach and you realize just how ubiquitous tattoos have become – and those are just the ones you can see. It’s a huge industry with impressive revenue attached to it.
But are tattoos seedy or art? Some feel tattoos still have a negative quality to them. Tim Wrightington, a West Haven resident and political critic, puts forth an interesting scenario in his online comment about the article, “Sailors can come in on a boat at the new bulk head on Water St., get inebriated at one of the drinking establishments in the area, get a tattoo downtown, pick up a hooker at the new train station and take her to the old Yankee Inn.” That’s one way to look at it. But no matter what you think about them, tattoos are here to stay. People from all walks of life have one or more of them. They are now so prevalent in society that they have become commonplace and accepted as the norm.
So why not have one at 479 Campbell Avenue? There was a tattoo parlor across from the green in New Yale Haven. It did not make it there as a business, but I know of no complaints about it being in that location. One of the merchant criticisms of the tattoo shop being in the center of West Haven is that it “doesn’t fit in with downtown economic goals.” I’d be very interested to know what those goals are, and why it does not fit in with the Dollar Store, multiple bars, Rent-A-Center, and nail shops in the same area?
My problem isn’t with the tattoo shop. It’s with our Planning and Development department and the Zoning Board of Appeals process. Clearly there is a lack of communication between all the stakeholders in our city. The process is flawed and needs to be fixed so everyone who wants to put their two cents in about business in West Haven can have their say before it’s a done deal. It’s embarrassing after the fact to try to stop the tattoo parlor from setting up shop. It’s not fair to them, and it certainly doesn’t do much to promote West Haven as the friendliest city in the state.