What is a television station? The question may seem innocuous, but for residents near one 94th Street home, it is a hot topic of debate.
The philosophical query originated when Gamil Halsik, who works from home, moved into 255 94th St. and naturally wanted to take his home business with him (seems innocent enough, right?).
The only problem was that Halsik’s move involved more than a station wagon or van: it actually meant a bulldozer tearing up the sidewalks to make room for new underground wiring.
Residents first became suspicious that the move was irregular when they noticed street equipment beginning to gather on their quiet tree-lined block. When they asked the workers what was going on, they were told that a new television station was being installed on the street and they needed to dig up some of the sidewalk to install cable.
As you might imagine, this prompted concerned neighbors to do what concerned neighbors always do in Bay Ridge: call the community board.
“When I started getting calls telling us that a television station was being installed on 94th Street, it sounded so ridiculous that I couldn’t believe it was true,” said Josephine Beckmann, who in her capacity as district manager of Community Board 10 is no stranger to calls, to the ridiculous, and to the frequent merger of both.
Beckmann did some digging of her own and found out that the workers had told the truth.
“He had applied for cabling work in connection with his job at Arabic News Channel 6,” said Beckmann as the mystery deepened. “We quickly put a halt to all street work and installation until we can figure out exactly what is going on.”
Beckmann said that zoning regulations are clear: no one can operate a television station from a private home on 94th Street. And some neighbors surmised that an Arab man digging up the sidewalk to open a television station was something to be concerned about in this day in age.
Time-Warner defended the move as just business as usual — the kind of thing that Chinese and Greek stations do all the time. The cable giant also told Beckmann that Halsik’s home is not a “television station,” but merely a facility where he can collect footage for future broadcast on Arab News Channel 6. He needs the underground wiring so he can digitally send the footage from his home to the station.
Halsik had the same operation in his prior residence and was only trying to bring his work with him to his new home, according to Time-Warner. This left the community board in uncharted waters — and scrambling for the dictionary to figure out the definition of what, exactly, is a television station.
“I can tell you it is one question this board has never had to deal with before,” Beckmann said. “We are trying to determine if there will be foot traffic and if he will have employees, or if Halsik is just going to be working on his computer by himself. We have a lot of questions, but the primary one is what constitutes a television station.”
Questions remain unanswered — but my brief encounter with Halsik did leave me convinced that there is no big television station coming to 94th Street, and that Halsik is, as Time-Warner contends, only a self-employed, work-from-home guy.
This became clear when Yellow Hooker rang the television maverick’s doorbell at 10 am in hopes of speaking with the man (and maybe get a peak at our new community station, too).
“I can’t talk right now. I was sleeping and you woke me up,” a visibly irritated Halsik said. “Give me your business card, and I will give you a call later.”
He never called, but I walked away convinced that the bulldozers should get on with their work and that Gamil Halsik should be allowed to carry on. If nothing else, Yellow Hooker understands that Halsik is the living, breathing, embodiment of the American Dream.
Sleeping until 10 am on a Monday morning? American dream, indeed.
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