- Food / CB3 Bristles at ‘Hell Square’ Designation in Controversial Liquor Saturation Panel
CB3 Bristles at ‘Hell Square’ Designation in Controversial Liquor Saturation Panel
Posted on: September 13th, 2017 at 9:58 am by Staff
Last modified on: September 13, 2017 at 12:57 pm
Whenever the subject of liquor licenses in Hell Square is raised, conversations are heated and tempers flare. One need only attend the monthly SLA subcommittee meeting for confirmation, or, as it happens, a hearing to discuss bar saturation on the Lower East Side.
Such was the case last night during the scheduled panel about “Alcohol Outlet Density” in Hell Square. The event featured a scholar on liquor density (Robert Pezzolesi) and the Hunter College team (Prof. Sigmund Shipp, Francisco Sandoval, Gretchen Bank) behind the controversial report of same released a few months ago.
The Transportation subcommittee, led by Chair Chad Marlow, heard two presentations on the links between license saturation and public health and safety. The first, presented by Pezzolesi, took a broad view of peer-reviewed studies showing a relationship between density and negative outcomes; the second showed similar findings in Hell Square. After both, affected residents in attendance expressed strong anecdotal support of the findings.
When the polarizing Hunter paper was first unleashed in June, it detonated huge hyperlocal fallout. Findings included scary stats on saturation and controversial conclusions about links to area crime. For example, there are over 130 active on-premise liquor licenses in the 24-block area bounded by East Houston, Allen, Broome, and Clinton Streets, translating to approximately 11.5 bars per block. This gives the tiny quadrant the distinction of having the highest density of licenses in New York City.
The hearing also became an opportunity for the public chastising of both the Hunter study and the LES Dwellers block association itself, the longtime nemesis of CB3. Backlash abounded over the data collection methods behind the study – small sample size (123) and participants of the group’s email list – and whether the link between density of licenses and higher crime is actually legit. However, Shipp explained at the outset that the findings were simply preliminary, based on two months of work that would continue into the current semester.
“The depiction that the Dwellers handpicked participants that were biased is misleading and factually untrue,” founder Diem Boyd says.
“We have no knowldege of who filled out the survey only the results of the survey from the report. The Hunter team crafted the survey, created the link to the survey, and captured the results independently of us. Moreover, we disagree with the detractors’ analysis that 123 participants is an insignificant sample size as it’s roughly 3% of Hell Square’s population, and to dismiss the participants is to deny that there is a serious public health and safety problem here.”
Criticism was led by Lucky Jack’s owner and CB3 Economic Development Chair Meghan Joye, SLA chair Alex Militano, and Lower East Side Partnership’s Tim Laughlin. All rejected the results of the study and pushed back on the academic research and purported links of saturation to health problems. For instance, noting how the overwhelming number of noise complaints from residents in the data did not specifically arise from the bar scene alone.
This tipped board member Karlin Chan into his own tirade of CB3 policy in recent years. “Their defense of bars and clubs didn’t sit well with me,” he told us after the proceedings. “I ripped into them with why we were even having this discussion while CB3’s SLA committee summarily ignores residents’ concerns and dishes out liquor licenses like they are going out of style. I feel as a community board we need to address residents’ concerns, but they are more interested in economic gains.”
Best of all, though, were complaints about the “Hell Square” moniker itself. Joye accused the Dwellers of coining the phrase, and that continued repetition of the designation reinforces a negative stereotype of the area. For the record, it was coined more than ten years ago, and later popularized by Curbed.
In the end, the committee considered opportunities to address the collective impact of on-premise licensed establishments, but decided that further discussions are needed. There were also calls to bring the alphabet soup of city agencies – DOT, DOH, NYPD – to conduct an official study on the issue.
The end of the road is here for Marm Cafe. The three-year-old corner establishment at 79 Clinton Street hasn’t been open since at least mid-August, its fate finally sealed this week with those brown paper shades. We communicated with ownership via email several weeks ago and were told that the cafe was actually on holiday. […]
The search for a new retail occupant at 145 Orchard Street just came to a close. It’s been four months since Killion departed the block, but now signage is in place for the latest entrant. Another fashion boutique. Here comes Sycamore Style, a decades-old footwear brand that hawks “custom hand-dyed shoes.” According to their website, […]
After Brennan & Griffin Gallery relocated to Norfolk Street last year, its former headquarters on Delancey Street remained vacant. The only action during its year-long dormancy was when Petee’s Pie used the space for its busy Thanksgiving rush last November. But now, more of the same is on the way. An art gallery from midtown […]
Convicted landlord Steve Croman will spend the Jewish High Holidays in the comfort of his own home instead of prison. At his hearing yesterday, Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Jill Konviser elected to postpone the sentencing another two weeks for the observance. Prosecutors on behalf of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opposed the motion, but […]
The Board of Elections yesterday completed its final tally of absentee and affidavit ballots, and the results are in. Incumbent Councilwoman Margaret Chin maintained her narrow margin over challenger Christopher Marte by just over 200 votes. So, it’ll likely be another four years of the same. The results should be certified by the city at […]
Instagram stars Girl with No Job and Boy with No Job were spotted in full wedding dress Sunday afternoon. The photo shoot took place on Stanton Street in what one of their hired photographers noted was her “favorite neighborhood.” This was presumably hours before their wedding. Together they walked down the grimy, uneven sidewalk just […]
The notorious “Rat Castle” building on Ludlow Street is back in the news. This time for something as innocuous as a real estate listing. Indeed, the owner of the ground-floor commercial condo at 179 Ludlow Street is looking to sell. The 1,650 square-foot space, currently home to national salon chain Drybar, is going for just […]
Take a look at the Allen Street Hotel, now renamed The Allen. Black netting is slowly crawling up the facade as major construction work is now reactivated. Yes, those words were mentioned in the same breath as this development. Make no mistake, either. This is a watershed event in the life of this zombie development. […]
More than a year later, applicants behind the Honey Fitz proposal are again attempting to infiltrate Avenue A. As before, however, neither the neighbors nor Community Board 3 are interested. The Late Late’s James Morrissey returned to the SLA subcommittee that snubbed his idea in February 2016, and likewise walked away last night empty-handed. There would […]
Still 200 votes shy of defeating two-term incumbent Margaret Chin, City Council challenger Christopher Marte is not giving up. Especially as the Board of Elections prepares to “open and count” absentee and affidavit votes. “Depending on the numbers, we will likely request a recount,” he told us last week. In the meantime, media outlets have […]