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Williamsburg Locals 'Not Worried' About Ebola After Infected Doc's Visit

By Serena Dai | October 24, 2014 4:35pm | Updated on October 27, 2014 8:50am
 "I'm not really worried about it here," one local said. "I'm more worried about it in east Africa."
Williamsburg 'Not Worried' About Ebola
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WILLIAMSBURG — Locals shrugged Friday after news that a doctor infected with Ebola visited a Williamsburg bowling alley hours before his diagnosis — saying they "don't really care" about the deadly disease touching down in the city.

Officials announced Thursday night that Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, tested positive for Ebola after returning home from treating patients in Guinea through Doctors Without Borders.

Before developing a fever and stomach pains Thursday morning, Spencer visited bowling alley The Gutter at 200 N. 14th St. on Wednesday. It voluntarily closed Thursday night as a precautionary measure. The space was later cleared to reopen by health officials.  

Neighbors appeared unshaken less than a day after the news broke.

"I don't really care," said Jay McDonald, 28, who was hanging out at nearby coffee shop Kinfolk. "I'm not really worried about it here. I'm more worried about it in ...Africa."

Nikky Cronk, who's lived on Berry Street near North 12th Street for more than five years, left her building Friday morning with her baby in a stroller.

"It is kind of crazy that he was so close by," Cronk said, noting she was confident the city knew how to handle the situation. "But it is more that it's part of a story than I'm afraid I'm going to get it."

The Gutter's owner, Todd Powers, opted to close his establishment Thursday night and hired a cleaning crew to sanitize the bar and bowling alley, he told reporters Friday.

Eight unofficial CMJ concerts scheduled at The Gutter Thursday were canceled due to the news, according to show organizer Keith Vogelsong.

"Once [the cleaning is] taken care of, we'll open the doors to the public," Powers said.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol told reporters that the specialized cleaning crew is expected to arrive later on Friday, though they did not have information on the name of the crew or the cost of the cleaning.

Powers hopes to open tonight if he can, depending on when the cleaning crew comes, but plans to definitely be open tomorrow — when Adams and Lentol will show up for a game, the officials said.

"Todd runs one of the great establishments, one of the jewels of Williamsburg,” Lentol said. "We want to make sure it stays that way, that people will come here tomorrow.”

Officials with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that there was no reason to be concerned about Ebola exposure at The Gutter. They did not respond to request for comment on whether they had approved the cleaning crew.

"We wanted to stand by the owner and say they have been cooperating fully," said Dr. Don Weiss, a physician with the city's health department. "They closed voluntarily. They’re actually going to take some steps beyond what we recommend.

"The place can reopen. We hope the patrons come back because it's a valued community institution."

Locals won't need much convincing that The Gutter is safe. Employees and gym rats who streamed in and out of the nearby Brooklyn Athletic Club, located at 8 Berry St. right around the corner from The Gutter, said they heard Spencer visited The Gutter but were unfazed by the revelation.

Timothy Angeles, 40, an employee at Berry Cleaners a couple blocks from the bowling alley, was also not overly concerned.

"Whatever happens, happens," he said.

Serban Ionescu, 30, who lives two blocks away from The Gutter and likes the "divey" bowling alley, said a sweep of the space may come with a silver lining.

"They need new bowling balls anyway," he said with a laugh. "They're chipped."