When it comes to getting a clearer picture of troubled nightclubs, the State Liquor Authority is often in the dark.
So say Senator Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, whose bill awaiting Gov. Cuomo’s signature would close the information gap between the SLA and the police department tasked to report a club’s violent streak.
The bill allows community boards to consult with police departments over what type of information they’d like the SLA to know about. The information can range from violent episodes to low-level infractions such as noise pollution, public urination and littering.
“We’re calling on the Governor to sign this bill and give us a real opportunity to enforce change and development,” said Crespo, who authored the bill.
Community boards are the first to hear about a club’s intent on renewing a license. Should a bar rack up enough infractions while their license is still active, the board issues a non-binding vote that serves to influence the SLA on whether to revoke or renew a license.
However, during a proceeding, the SLA doesn’t get a full account over much trouble a bar has drawn, despite reports filed by the police department,” said Klein.
“It makes it very difficult to move in a very quick fashion to take away a liquor license,” said Klein, standing with Crespo and other elected officials at Club Eleven at 1152 Randall Ave., the inspiration behind the bill.
The nightclub lies on the outskirts of several buildings in Hunts Point. It’s temporarily closed after a multi-agency raid in March revealed the club failed to have proper state worker’s comp papers totaling $300,000. Weeks later the cabaret’s liquor license expired.
But the club has also been a magnet for violence, where fatal stabbings, shootings and other assaults happened on a regular basis, the most notorious last year when five people were stabbed and two shot in a melee that began inside the troubled club. In all, over 300 incidents have been reported because of the club.
Sparks of violence forced cops from the 41st Precinct to dedicate three patrol cars, siphoning the already stretched Four-One to a single area.
“It’s a burden across the board,” said Robert Crespo, first chair of Community Board 2, who’s stood with District Manager Rafael Salamanca Jr. in ridding these bars.
So far, four cabarets have been shuttered this year, restoring a semblance of normality to a crime-plaugued area.
But the bill still won’t resolve the sluggish due process owners tend to exploit during a renewal or disciplinary hearing.
With a case taking weeks for a final ruling, the nightclub can still operate, racking up violations.
Club Eleven owner Patrick Aryee is now looking to renew his license, though it will be difficult this time around, said SLA spokesman Bill Crowley.
Even if new owners were to apply for a license, it will still be harder to get one.
“We’re going to make sure it’s not the same owner,” said Crowley. “And that location’s going to receive a higher level of scrutiny.”