Allow me to begin by saying everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. You have yours; this one is mine. I am against tattoo parlors in downtown Peekskill, but I won’t use the argument that tattoos are not art, since the definition of art is subjective, and beauty - as it has been said - is in the eyes of the beholder.
I also won’t use the argument that they bring a seedy element to a town, since tattooing is a current fad for some everyday people, and not just coveted by drunken sailors and prisoners - the typical image of a tattoo wearer in decades gone by (yet still an image that remains in the eyes of many - and perception is everything.)
Although, I do believe that tattoos are a form of body mutilation and are a way of creating an artificial self by coloring between the lines to create a surface personality rather than finding oneself from within, still, I will not use that argument since it is merely my opinion.
What I will use as my agreement are facts about other arts centers that do not have such establishments in their downtown area; the physical, medical and psychological issues of tattoos; loitering problems these establishments bring; and the current, documented trend to have tattoos removed by many.
I have lived in various downtown arts districts in the U.S. and in every successful and nationally known destination, from downtown Santa Fe, to Scottsdale, Arizona, to the Brady Street Arts District in Tulsa, Oklahoma, among others, and as far as I know, there are NO tattoo parlors located these successful downtown arts districts.
Walk up the famous Canyon Road in Santa Fe, and you will see art galleries, music venues, coffee houses, performance spaces, but no tattoo parlors. Stroll the streets of Scottsdale’s Gallery Row and, again, no tattoo parlors. Enter the funky, Tulsa historic Brady Street Arts district with its galleries, performance spaces, etc., and you will NOT find a single tattoo parlor.
If we want Peekskill, Peekskill’s downtown arts district, to be widely recognized as a premiere arts area, a destination for great food, music, art, a place to bring revenue to our artists and our city, a place where people gather for festivals, and shows in various art forms, we will follow the example of well established arts districts in our country and keep body art, as in tattoo and piercing parlors, out of our arts district. These body inkings, etc., come and go historically as a fad for the everyday person in the US. When the fad fades, will the city be petitioned for the tattoo removal of such tattoo parlors?
In fact, as you may have noticed in the media, there is now a trend to remove tattoos. Many celebrities and others are having these inkings removed using very painful procedures, regretting ever having them in the first place. For example, actor and producer Mark Walberg recently, as a visual deterrent, had his multiple tattoos removed in front of his three children in a series of excruciating removal treatments to show his kids the pain and devastation on the body from these markings.
It is a known fact that inks, especially the current glow-in-the-dark and new colors contain heavy metals and are causing allergic reactions that present themselves over the years to those with tattoos. When one has a tattoo and needs an MRI or other medical tests, that person has to alert their doctor since the heavy metals in the ink can react with the magnets. I know of a heavily tattooed person who thought she had breast cancer since the mammogram showed lumps in her breasts. It turned out that the inks from her tattoos crept around her body and created scar tissue lumps that were taken, at first examination, as breast tumors. And from a psychological point of view, getting tattoos have been proven to be, in many cases, addictive. The more one gets, the more one wants. Do we want Peekskill’s downtown image to carry the image of all of the above?
Tattoo parlors bring loitering to a town – appointment only or not. Just check out the tattoo parlor in Pleasantville on Bedford Road. They set up plastic chairs in front of the place, where patrons and workers sit and stand all day, waiting for their turn. This is unsightly, and gets in the way of people walking by, intimidates some pedestrians, kids, etc. I have observed this there from the other side of the street while I sat in a coffee house.
Peekskill is just now beginning to lose it seedy reputation, although I still encounter people, even residents, who say, "Downtown Peekskill? I'm not going there. There's crime, drugs." Of course I ask them, when was the last time you've been in downtown? They can't even recall. I then ask them to go to the downtown area one day or night and see how our city has changed. Let's not reinforce that false image with a tattoo parlor. Let's compromise and allow these establishments in our industrial district.
It is not like we don’t have tattoo parlors nearby. If a person wants a tattoo, they can go to Rt. 6 in the Mohegan Lake area where there are two tattoo parlors across the street from one another.
If you want to brand our city as a true center for art and commerce, a destination for culture and a fun place for all to visit, do not allow tattoo parlors in the arts district. We don’t need these establishments to create a stigma, deserved or otherwise, as part of the face of Peekskill. Let the face of Peekskill be one of the river and arts, smiling at all who visit. Not one that is marred by dark, indelible stain across our features, like a mask hiding our vibrant visage that we are blossoming into day.
*Editor's Note: After years of discussion, the Peekskill City Council has directed city staff to draft language that would allow tattoo parlors in the city's downtown district. At tonight's work session, staff will look for clarification from the Council on several issues including: Should tattoo studios only be allowed in the downtown, or in other districts as well? How far should tattoo studios need to be from each other? from schools?
What do you think about a tattoo parlor moving in to downtown Peekskill? Do you support this or are you against it?