Crime / Police

Legislators say they’ll get tough on clubs

Joe Hirsch

Community Board 2 chair Ian Amritt at a press conference in front of Club 11 on Randall Avenue on Sept. 5.

Law would allow community boards more input about bars

Hunts Point residents and Community Board 2 received a shot in the arm in their long battle to keep out strip clubs and the unsavory characters that frequent them.

Two state legislators chose one of the borough’s most notorious bars, Club 11 on Randall Avenue, as the backdrop for a press conference on Wednesday, where they plugged a bill they say would help streamline communication between police precincts and community boards and the State Liquor Authority. Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and State Senator Jeff Klein, both of whom represent Hunts Point, argue the law is needed to cut down on bars and clubs that gobble up resources, forcing local police to keep a constant eye on rowdy customers. 

Crespo said NYPD’s legal department often withholds potentially incriminating up-to-date information about recent arrests at the clubs from the liquor agency, citing privacy laws. He argued that the information is too important to be kept under wraps.

Both houses passed the bill earlier this year, leaving the final decision in the governor’s hands. It would require the Liquor Authority to obtain a list of all arrests and infractions from area police and community boards for every nightclub and bar that applies for a license.

“Hunts Point in particular has had an unfortunate history of vice and violence that has hindered its progress,” said Crespo, adding that police from the 41st Precinct on Longwood Avenue have had to respond to nearly 300 complaints from Club 11 in recent years, ranging from public urination to stabbings and shootings.

Community representatives were hopeful the legislation would pass.

“The South Bronx has a reputation” as an area where prostitution and strip clubs are rampant, said Ian Amritt, chairman of Community Board 2, adding that strip clubs have brought Hunts Point “other issues like noise, reckless driving and littering” along with violent crime. He urged the elected officials to “Take it back to Governor Cuomo and tell him to sign it.”

Club 11 was closed down in March when a raid orchestrated by police and other enforcement agencies revealed that owner Patrick Aryee had failed to pay his employees workmen’s compensation. The state levied nearly $300,000 in fines on Aryee, who is due back in front of the liquor board next week, where he is expected to offer a settlement of $3,500 to clear the case.

Senator Klein called the proposed legislation a “smart, common sense approach to let police and community boards share information” with the liquor authority, and added “The ammunition we need is to show they’re not worthy of their license.”

He continued that an additional benefit of the legislation is that it would help owners with clean track records receive approval for their liquor licenses more quickly.

Robert Crespo, chair of the community board’s recently established sub-committee that watchdogs local bars and the liquor licensing process, said that while he welcomes the proposal, he is skeptical about oversight.

“Here, it’s taken almost four years to close them down,” he said of Club 11.“There’s got to be some strong enforcement.”

The Liquor Authority did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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