From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Message From Lentol’s Office

February 25, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

bulletthumbThose of you who have contacted Joseph Lentol’s office regarding the recent shooting at the Production Lounge should find the following of interest. It is an email a I received from his office apprising me of what actions he is taking to ensure this does not happen again. Happy reading.

Dear Miss Heather,

My name is Amy Cleary and I work for Assemblyman Joe Lentol.  I just wanted to give you and your readers an update that is being done with regard to the recent shooting at Production Lounge.  We have spoken with many of our constituents who live near this location and listened to their accounts of that eventing.  Any time you hear about people waking up to bullet holes six feet from where they sleep it is absolutely horrifying.  We have written to the state liquor authority to ensure that there is a full investigation of this matter. We have also met with the police.  The 94th precinct assures us that they are meeting with the owner and taking every step possible to prevent this from happening again, guns have no place near people’s homes.  We intend to follow this matter closely and support the police in any way that we can. Thank you for your attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

Amy Cleary

So there have you. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: when it comes to constituent services Joe Lentol is tops!

Miss Heather

P.S.: On a related note some of you might have noticed that Yelp has scrubbed a number of the reviews for the Production Lounge. Hmm. In any case if anyone out there has screencaps of the now-excised entries let me know via comments. I would very much like to have them. Thanks!

A Red Herring In Greenpoint

February 24, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

shenanigansalgulsiento

One of the more compelling questions raised at last week’s meeting of the 94th Precinct Community Council was why Franklin Street currently has seven drinking establishments with an eighth one forthcoming. In other words, the citizens present wanted to know why are so many drinking establishments have been sanctioned to inhabit such a small area. When queried, D.I. Fulton did not have answer— not should he; he is a police officer, not an expert on liquor licensing. The following email from Phil DePaolo, however, might shed some light on this phenomenon:

I just can’t help felling extreme sadness after watching these videos from the above link about the problem with quality of life issues in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

During the rezoning I spoke to many residents of Hell’s Kitchen and the Lower East Side who were having many of the problems we face today. I was warned that this would happen to us. But to the City, our local council members and some community groups infrastructure and “quality of life issues” I felt were very important were considered non issues and my concerns fell on deaf ears.

Now we see how bars have transformed our community. Small businesses that served local residents have been forced out of their storefronts unable to meet high commercial rents that landlords know bars can afford. And since new bars often attract their clientele from outside the neighborhood, there is no local market cap on their number or viability. New bars attract non-local patrons, those patrons attract more outsiders and more new bars pop up to meet the  boundless demand as the entire neighborhood becomes a scene, a lively scene, but also noisy, congested and sometimes dangerous to our community.

Neighborhoods thrive on responsible development and bars are a useful part of that development. But the bar scene has gotten out of hand. It is forcing on us an unbalanced, non-local and precarious economic base that compromises the quality of life for residents and depreciates the business value of current bars. Our neighborhood ­ residents and businesses and bar owners alike ­needs a cap on the number of bars per block. I proposed this during the rezoning.

The State Liquor Authority has loosened its interpretation of how many bars are allowed by right within a 500 foot radius.  It used to be that opening a bar within 500 feet of any 3 full liquor licenses required a special hearing at the SLA, consultation with the local community board and evidence of public benefit. The new interpretation will allow many more bars to slip in without that special hearing, consultation or evidence.

The new interpretation of the SLA’s 500 foot rule is that there must be 3 or more licenses of the same class. However, community boards do not have information regarding the classes of existing licenses to be able to make informed decisions.

The State Liquor Authority awards liquor licenses to bars in New York City without regard for local economic diversity or residential quality of life. These local concerns should lie within the purview of local governance, not an unaccountable state authority. To return local concerns to local governance, The New York Community Council will ask every City Council candidate to take a clear stand ­in writing, ­on developing new City Council zoning laws to restrict the proliferation of bars in our community, promote economic diversity and preserve the quality of residential life.

The bar problem may not seem as deep an issue as affordable housing or quality education, but it is an issue that affects residents personally and immediately, the kind of issue that brings residents to the voting booth.

Our neighborhood, long prized for its diversity of peoples, cultures and arts, has many challenges: rampant poverty, homelessness, violence and drugs, rampant gentrification, displacement of long term residents and businesses and now a bar scene that is out of control. Isn’t it time we took in hand the future of our neighborhood? We must ask City Council candidates, where do you stand on zoning limits for new bars?

So there have you. We, as citizens, have been effectively by-passed from having any voice regarding our own community’s future. As a result large venues/tourist attractions like Studio B (which, per Gothamist will be coming back with a vengeance. Soon.) and The Production Lounge (backed by lobbyists and/or unheard of amounts of money) are reshaping our community in a manner which best suits their interests, namely: making it a playground for others. When these “tourists” leave we are the ones who have to live with the consequences of their actions be it garbage, noise, traffic, a smashed window, posting an apology for said broken window, or having bullets fired outside (or inside) your home.

Contrary to what good ol’ Joe alleges (because has no other proverbial leg to stand on) this is not a race issue: it is a quality of life issue. An issue that has arisen time and time again in this, my community when nightclubs have operated with total disregard to the well-being of their neighbors. A neighborhood which I care very much about: Greenpoint.

Those of you who are amenable to having 11222 become another 11211 (or are simply apathetic) should ignore the rest of this post. Those of you who are interested taking our neighborhood back (or at least having your voice heard) can raise holy (but polite and non-threatening, please) hell with your elected officials. Here’s a few to kick things off:

State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol
619 Lorimer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 383 – 7474
lentolj (at) assembly (dot) state (dot) ny (dot) ny (dot) us

Councilman David Yassky
114 Court Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
(718) 875 – 5200
yassky (at) council (dot) nyc (dot) ny (dot) us

Community Board 1
435 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn , New York, 11211
(718) 389 – 0009
Fax: (718) 389 – 0098
Email: bk01 (at) cb (dot) nyc (dot) gov

And last— but hardly least— you can complain to the New York State Liquor Authority. The people who have in large part created this problem in the first place.

Miss Heather

Photo Credit: Algul Siento

Greenpoint Video Du Jour: More Fun At The Production Lounge

February 22, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

franklinst

After a shooting and a rather contentious Community Council meeting last week The Production Lounge keeps on trucking with this video shot Friday night. Angry Grandma with a Bullet Hole in her grand baby’s bedroom writes:

I don’t know if my son-in-law sent you this, but I want to be sure you have it. RE: Ongoing Saga of The Production Lounge Lizards. This is a video of owner Joe losing it with the cops on Friday, Feb 20, as they have been at him non-stop and put a spot light on his front door so the poor guy can’t even let in all those underage thuglets.


Yes sir, nothing says “I want to be positive force in the community” like screaming at its constabulary! How can I not shake the feeling this establishment is going to be Studio B: Part II? On that note I like to point out that if I didn’t have all my paper work in order (which I can assure you this gentleman doesn’t: The Production Lounge has neither a cabaret license nor a place of assembly permit—the latter most is a must for establishments that hold more than 75 people and this joint falls under that category) I’d be a little more low key when dealing with the authorities.

But what would I know?

Miss Heather

Parts IV & V Of The 94th Precinct Community Council Saga

February 18, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

As promised (and after dealing with some serious technical difficulties), here is my final installment of footage taken at last night’s Community Council meeting. Enjoy!

Miss Heather

Notes From The 94th Precinct Community Council Meeting

February 18, 2009 ·
Filed under: Greenpoint Magic 

difulton

signinqueue

It was packed at last night’s Community Council meeting. If I had to guesstimate I’d say there were at least 100 people present. Many of whom were residents and/or business owners from Franklin Street, along with a camera woman from Channel 12, a community liaison from Joseph Lentol’s office and a “representative” from the Production Lounge.

Although a cake congratulating Officer Fulton for his promotion to Deputy Inspector was in the offering, all eyes, ears, minds and most importantly mouths were intent on discussing last weekend’s incident at the Production Lounge And I’ll tell you: all the people present (save perhaps two) be they old timers, newbies, 30-somethings with children or simply concerned citizens were very, very angry. What I found most interesting was that although the gun play at the Production Lounge (and how the police handled it) was the subject of the entire meeting, it was in reality a proxy for a number of quality of life issues which have been festering in Greenpoint for some time. These included but were not limited to:

  • The proliferation of bars on Franklin Street.
  • The increase in noise and disorderly activity which has come as a result of the previous.
  • Dissatisfaction with the 94th Precinct’s response to complaints.
  • Club Exit.
  • Allegations that 311 is fudging the number of complaints being called in.

Disturbing allegations that the ownership of The Production Lounge did not care about the nuisance it was posing to its neighbors (and in fact encouraged it) also arose. As did some incidences which would be best described as harassment or outright intimidation. But enough preliminaries. Follows is my footage from the meeting. Draw your own conclusions.

Part I



Part II

Part III

I’ll be adding more footage from this meeting as YouTube (and my sheer will power) sees fit.* In the meantime those of you who have been affected negatively by The Production Lounge (or any other watering hole in Greenpoint or north Brooklyn in general) can and should contact the following:

State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol
619 Lorimer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 383 – 7474
lentolj (at) assembly (dot) state (dot) ny (dot) ny (dot) us

Councilman David Yassky (When this was suggested at the meeting a number of people shouted in unison “He’s useless!” But who knows?)
114 Court Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
(718) 875 – 5200
yassky (at) council (dot) nyc (dot) ny (dot) us

My good friend over at Neighborhood Threat has already pointed that out all noise complaints should be tendered to 311. Take down the complaint number(s) and hand them over to our local Community Board via email…

Community Board 1
435 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn , New York, 11211
(718) 389 – 0009
Fax: (718) 389 – 0098
Email: bk01 (at) cb (dot) nyc (dot) gov

And last, but hardly least, you can also file a complaint to the New York State Liquor Authority. Here’s a snippet of their online complaint form.

nyslldeets

Given what I heard from last night’s meeting I suspect complaint boxes two and six will be very useful. It might also strike some as interesting that The Production Lounge has neither a Place of Assembly permit nor Certificate of Occupancy. In other words, they have no right to have people (much less those brandishing firearms)  in 113 Franklin Street in the first place. Don’t believe me? Go to the Department of Buildings web site and see for yourself.**

Miss Heather

*You can watch the final two installments by clicking here.

**Oh yeah: it should come as no surprise to my fellow Greenpointers that the Production Lounges has no cabaret license either. Sound familiar, anyone?

P.S.: There’s much more piquant commentary about last night’s proceedings to be found on Yelp.

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