In what was a pleasant outcome for the residents of Spencer Estate, but a shock to most, the proposed Country Club Wine Shop will not open as planned.
During an August 20 ruling by the State Liquor Authority, which drew out community members to the agency’s Harlem office for a mid-day session, a panel denied the application of Clifford and Erika Pitt to open what was to be primarily a shop selling wine, located on the premises of the former LoParrino’s Deli at 3202 Ampere Avenue.
The announcement comes shortly after a large public hearing at Community Board 10, which issued an advisory statement against the opening of the shop, and the strenuous opposition of both the community and Senator Jeff Klein.
The Spencer Estate Civic Association and Senator Jeff Klein are widely credited with what was seen by most as a win for the community, which lobbied hard against the unwanted shop.
“After many public discussions with community, it is the overwhelming belief that a wine shop is not appropriate for the location proposed,” said Klein in a letter written to the SLA. “It is my belief that the community is already well-served by the existing wine distributors in the surrounding area, and adding another would change the character of the proposed area.”
The community gave the wine shop, which would also be licensed to sell other types of liquor, a strong thumbs down during a town hall style meeting in which Westchester wine and spirit consultant Clifford Pitt made a presentation about his plans to the community at CB 10’s office on May 13.
The CB 10 meeting drew out close to 100 people, and overwhelming majority of the crowd opposed the venture. Two days later the full board voted to send a letter to SLA opposing the plans for the wine shop.
While there has not been a clear explanation of the SLA’s decision, it is rumored that the fact that Clifford Pitt would be both the operator of the shop, and also working for a wine distributor, would cause a conflict of interest.
Either way, the Spencer Estate Civic Association, which petitioned against the shop, saw the SLA’s decision an important achievement that will help preserve the quality of life in their neighborhood.
“This victory shows that when everyone works together, you can get positive results,” said SECA president Al Carena. “It was a collective effort of civic groups, individual community members who started a petition, elected officials like Senator Klein, and business people like some area wine and liquor stores.”
Carena said that other than people who had financial interest in the store, there was little or no community support for the venture. While he was glad that the SLA decided in the community’s favor, he added that there was still much more work to be done.
“The next thing we are working on will be the access gate to the waterfront promenade proposed by the Department of Parks and Recreation,” Carena noted, speaking of a proposed entrance to the park on the corner of Watt and Bayshore avenues which has drown both opposition and concern in the community.
As for the Pitts, while it is in their right to file an appeal with the SLA, the community feels no such action will take place. Neither Clifford or Erika Pitt returned calls for comment as of press time.
©2008 Community News Group