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Area Drowns In Booze

CB 4 Upset Over Corona Bars

Corona and Elmhurst are flooded with alcohol-related quality-of-life prolems-and a host of new liquor license applications-a civic activist railed during the Queens Community Board 4 meeting last Tuesday, May 13, at Corona’s Flanders Field VFW Post 150.

Following Public Safety Committee chairperson Lucy Schilero’s report, the board voted to draft a letter that will be sent to other Queens’ community boards asking if residents in those communities have been dealing with similar problems related to excessive drinking.

Schilero complained of rowdiness, public urination and alcohol-fueled street fights negatively affecting the quality-oflife in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“They’re not being good neighbors. (There are) fights, public urination and combinative behaviors. There is an attitude, they don’t have any respect for their neighbors,” Schilero said.

Prior to the Public Safety Committee recommending a letter be sent to other community boards to assess if they are having a similar issue, Schilero read aloud the five new applications for new licenses received within the last month.

Several were still missing the necessary certification of occupancy permits to complete their applications and were denied, but the board can get 20 in a month, and it can be overwhelming, according to Schilero

“A letter has to be sent out; we’re just overwhelmed,” she said.

The community board is charged with getting feedback from residents and voting to either recommend or deny a permit. The final decision, with consideration of the community board’s vote, is made by the State Liquor Authority.

“We need to draft a letter. And need to feel out other community boards,” Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol said.

“We want to see what the other boards feel because it’s not getting better,” Schilero said. “It’s become an issue for local police, “the precinct says it’s a terrible issue.”

“It does take up a lot of their time. It’s been escalating since the ’90s,” added Schilero, a member of Board 4 for the last three decades.

“What I’m getting are complaints,” she said. “We’re saturated with liquor license requests. We’re the most active area in the city. We’ve had enough. We have no way to control the amount of people that are inebriated.”

“There is such a thing as saturation,” Schilero said. “We don’t need more nightclubs, we have enough.”

“(It’s) the most congested area for nightclubs in the city,” Schilero said.

A 2012 New York Times article reported that the State Liquor Authority (SLA) conducted research that determined Corona to be second only to downtown manhattan in the number of beer and wine dispensaries in the entire city. The piece mentioned this was undertaken at the request of Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who Schilero said remains aware of the issue.

The SLA website hosts a searchable database that can be narrowed by city and ZIP code. A search on the site found 484 active licenses in ZIP code 11368, which includes Corona, with 129 of those classified as serving-on-premises.

By comparison, in ZIP code 11106, which includes Astoria, there were 173 total licenses with 101 on premise, for 285 total; and 185 on premise in ZIP code 11385 for Ridgewood and Glendale.

Community Board 4 does not cover the entirety of ZIP code 11368, and at least a third of the licenses are the responsibility of community Board 3.

“The ZIP code can be misrepresentative, It also includes board 3 and a least a third is on their half,” Cassagnol said. Even so, he agreed with Schilero that “we’re oversaturated” with licenses.

“I have been in contact with SLA, and I would like to see a moratorium on licenses,” he said.

Cassagnol and Schilero are also frustrated by uneven enforcement, as some repeat violators have been allowed to remain open The SLA rules purportedly don’t allow three active licenses within 500 feet of each other and require more than 200 feet separating drinking establishments from schools and churches.

Schilero feels these rules are not uniformly enforced, or are measured using methods she is not using herself, as she has found distances less thatn what is supposedly required, she said.

“I need to know what they are using as a 500 foot rule,” she said at last Tuesday’s meeting.

Schilero would like to see enforcement beefed up. “The biggest problem is enforcement. For us, it’s actually Corona Jackson heights and Elmhurst,” she said. “This is proliferating. I’d like to extend that 500 foot rule and make it a lot longer. It’s gotten to be, it’s unbelieveable. It was 100 feet at one point,” she said.

Cassagnol agrees the 500-foot and 200-foot rules need to be enfonced uniformly. He also would like see community boards granted more powers when drinking establishments flout the law repeatedly for violations like selling alcohol to minors or already intoxicated persons. He feels the community board’s role is a bit inadequate, as the SLA is granted power to make the final determinations on licenses.

Cassagnol and community board members spend about fifteen to twenty minutes with each new applicant, and when there are 20 in a month, it can be a lot of work, he said. In addition to meeting with the owners, the community board is tasked with ensuring a business has the proper paperwork, including certification of occupancy permits before the entire board can vote to recommend or disapprove an application.

“I think we should have more power. We spend a lot of time and resources for the SLA to just say we’re good. It’s almost a slap in the face,” Cassagnol said. “In the summer we can get 20 in a month. Either expand the law more or enforce the foot rules.”

Schilero also believes the people frequenting these establishments are from other areas and come to her community to drink, get rowdy in someone else’s neighborhood, which she believes could have long-term, negative effects on business growth.

“People come from outside, it’s too much in a quiet neighborhood.” Schilero said. Long-term she wants to attract viable businesses to Queens that do not negatively affect the community’s quality-of-life.

Schilero feels the problem is most acute along stretches of Broadway, Albion Avenue and Corona Avenue.

She wants the needs of he community listened to, is concerned that so many drinking establishments are affecting residents lives and wants to raise awareness around the issue of excessive drinking.

“What’s in place now is not sustainable for a neighborhood,” she said. “We just feel we need to call attention to it. When one goes, there’s someone coming up.”

“I think we need to push our representatives.” she concluded.

110th Precinct update

Deputy Inspector Ronald Leyson, of the 110th Precinct, told the group his command saw a 3.5 percent crime reduction in the last 28 days and a 6.5 percent decrease for the year, he said. “crime is down in every category for the year, except for burglaries,” Leyson said.

He advised residents to cover the PIN pad when using ATM machines because perpetrators have begun using tiny cameras to steal customers personal information. Identification thieves employ fake cover pads over the bank’s ATM keypad that can input your PIN, he said.

“We’ve been having a problem with ATM skimmers,” Leyson said. “Always, always cover the PIN pad.”

Perpetrators have also put cameras near the card readers on bank doors that can steal your card number when you enter, Leyson advised. “This is one of the things that is very prevalent, not in the 110, we’ve been very lucky.”

There has only been a report of one such scam at the precinct, Leyson said. It happened at a TD Bank branch.

“We’ve had a big problem at TD Banks,” he said.

Queens Community Board 4 meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at VFW Post 150, located at 51-11 108th Street, in Corona.

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