Despite the closure of Empire Billiards, the area in New Hyde Park known as the Ingraham Corridor is still not without its problems.
Most of the activity in recent years had centered on the now-defunct billiard hall/ lounge which closed its doors on June 30, but incidents and complaints from residents continue in the area.
“This had been a source of major concern for the community and it appears that that issue has now resolved itself,” New Hyde Park Mayor Robert Lofaro said during a meeting on July 16 at the village hall, thanking the police and fire marshall’s office. “We are not happy that any business is not in business but this particular business seemed to violate the village code in many regards and was dealt with.”
According to Lofaro, the village board would attempt to meet with property owner to discuss future uses of the space.
It was suggested that since the board at a past meeting had enforced stricter parking regulations in the area because of Empire Billiards patrons, expanding the no parking ordinance to between the hours of 12 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the area, that it would be changed back once again to provide relief. However, the board considered waiting 30 days in order to revaluate the parking restrictions.
Another concern was the BP Gas Station, which had been cited for underage drinking and loitering of individuals into the early morning hours. Lofaro added that in addition to there being three arrests made for open alcohol containers in the past, on July 15 there were reports of public urination and open containers. The mayor said that the board had been told by the property owner in writing that additional cameras and better lighting had been installed.
“Once that’s done I think things in that area should hopefully be better and the residents in the area won’t have to come to the meetings again and complain as they have in the past,” he said.
The crackdown in the area though has also affected another business, Walk Street Tavern, which reportedly was the subject of several noise complaints from residents in the area as well. The establishment was issued a summons for a violation of the village’s noise ordinance on June 29 for the music played by a band in the rear yard area.
“Some residents, the amplified music that’s emanating from your property is offending to them,” Lofaro said to owner Jim Tubbs on July 16, noting that the complaint came from a resident who lived on Ingraham Lane north of the BP station.
Tubbs had come to the meeting to complain about what he perceived to be the sudden issuance of the violation, feeling that he was being “set up” by the village code. Tubbs had requested the name of the resident who made the complaint, but village attorney Benjamin Truncale stated that Tubbs would have to file a freedom of information (FOIL) request to obtain the minutes of the meeting.
Lofaro said that the village does not issue summonses on residents’ complaints.
“What that does is it tells us that we need to look at the situation; we evaluated the situation and we found a violation and summonses were issued,” the mayor said, entering into a back-and-forth with Tubbs about the noise standards.
According to the village codebook, which defines “ambient sound” as the noise level “that is exceeded 90 percent of the time” in an area, the limits on sound emanating from a residential property at night is 50 dB and 60 dB at night in a business/ commercial area.
“I thought that we had discussed amongst ourselves that because of the time that we were doing it – that we were ending it early because I can have music later on – that we were under the understanding that it was ok,” Tubbs said. “Why suddenly is it now an issue again?”
According to deputy mayor Lawrence Montreuil, Tubbs was put on notice in 2008 about the noise ordinance and was informed that he may receive a violation.
“No one said it was ok,” Lofaro countered. “That’s not the way it works. We’ve had conversations about this, we’ve issued a letter to you telling you the sound from the property has to be kept within the guidelines of the (code).”
“The impossible guidelines?” Tubbs retorted. “The noise level that we are required that is not required of the village when they do their concert and its not required of any block party when they do a concert is impossible for us legally; you cannot have any music whatsoever without going over the level.”
“We can’t put a sound meter in front of Empire Billiards and not have a sound meter in front of Walk Street Tavern; we have to employ the law equally amongst everybody,” Lofaro said. “This room was packed with people and they had a problem with that area and we were dealing with Empire Billiards, we were dealing with the BP Station and we have to deal with your establishment as well; you fell into that scenario.”