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HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR
Assemblymember 71st District
2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd.
New York, NY 10039
TEL (212) 568-2828
FAX (212) 928-4177
Public Safety

While most of us would like to think about public safety as little and as rarely as possible, having adequate policing in our communities and working with law enforcement in order to maintain harmony in our neighborhoods is an issue I take very seriously.

Over the years, crime has gone down, but today we are beginning to see an increase in the minor crimes and quality-of-life complaints - loud music and illegal racing come quickly to mind - which all too often are the early warning signs of more serious crimes. We are working closely with your police precincts (the 30th, 32nd, 33rd and 34th) in order to stop this.


Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

June 25, 2012

Chairman Dennis Rosen
NYS Liquor Authority
80 South Swan Street
Albany, NY 12210-8002

Dear Chairman Rosen,

With the 2012 Legislative Session concluded, it is time to turn to another issue of concern that continues to elicit many complaints in the northern stretches of my District. As I am sure you recall from your visit two years ago, when we walked Dyckman Street and the surrounding area, numerous exceptions had already been made to the SLA's 500-Foot Rule. Now, yet another exception for yet another bar has been requested. This must stop somewhere. I suggest that here and now would be appropriate.

The proposed enterprise, which according to their application will do business under the name SAO, is under the same ownership as another Dyckman Street restaurant and bar, Il Sole, which has a record of abusing their outdoor café which remains open after agreed-to closing times. The noise associated with this establishment keeps the neighbors from sleeping throughout the year.

Located in a former ladies' clothing shop at 251-253 Dyckman, between Seaman and Payson Avenues, these premises sit next door to Mamajuana Café and one door down from a bodega that also sells alcohol. On the next block, between Seaman Avenue and Broadway, according to SLA records, there are seven businesses that actively hold liquor licenses. Ten licensed purveyors of beer, wine and liquor within two blocks is not only overkill, but also makes a mockery of SLA's 500-Foot Rule.

The New York City Police Department's 34th Precinct opposes the SAO application, as does Community Board 12's Economic Development committee, which on June 5 voted against recommending that the SLA approve this application, as did board members and members of the community. The public mood, meanwhile, is turning from anger to disgust at what their neighborhood has been allowed to become, and feel that government is not concerned with their needs.

Further, the renovated Dyckman Marina is slated to open later this summer with a seating capacity of 500 and will serve alcohol on the premises.

I urge you in the strongest terms to carefully weigh the potential impact of allowing yet another bar to open in this once quiet, but now glutted and besotted, neighborhood that has been nicknamed "Alcohol Alley." I believe that I speak not only for myself but for my community when I ask that you do everything within your authority to stop this from happening.

Most sincerely,

H. D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



February 17, 2012
Farrell Supports Gov. Cuomo’s
"Work for Success" Program
New Plan Will Help the Formerly Incarcerated Rejoin Society

A new jobs initiative called "Work for Success" intends to reduce the high unemployment among formerly incarcerated New Yorkers who have paid their debt to society but after returning home have had difficulty finding work and moving on with their lives. The plan stands to benefit all New Yorkers by increasing opportunity and creating more tax-paying, law-abiding citizens.


Assemblyman Farrell and Governor Cuomo at a recent meeting.

Cuomo: Plan Will Improve Public Safety

"Tens of thousands of people leave New York State prisons each year and without employment most are at a higher risk of returning to incarceration," Governor Cuomo said. "The ‘Work for Success’ initiative will reduce poverty and joblessness for some of our state’s hardest to employ citizens, while enhancing public safety and improving economic conditions for the families and communities to which they return."


Farrell: Help for Ex-Inmates Could Help our State

"The rate of unemployment among formerly incarcerated New Yorkers is a detriment to all of the people of our State, not just to those with criminal records," Assemblyman Farrell said. "This is a serious matter that will not be solved by writing a report that will only sit on a shelf. The ‘Work for Success’ initiative provides the effective employment strategy that this issue demands. Through this approach, New York can make real progress in helping fellow citizens returning from incarceration to re-enter society in a way that is beneficial to our whole State. I thank Governor Cuomo for making this issue a priority."


Aubry: We Must Combat the Cycle of Unemployment

"In order to get our State back on the path to prosperity, we must consider the needs of all New Yorkers," said Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, Chair of the Standing Committee on Correction. "Governor Cuomo’s ‘Work for Success’ initiative does this by aggressively working to combat the cycle of unemployment facing New Yorkers coming home from prison." I am proud to work with the Governor to ensure that this initiative is a success so that we can help these individuals in need and benefit our economy statewide."

Nozzolio: Allow the Formerly Incarcerated to Become Productive Again

"Many New Yorkers who return home from prison face the very real problem of finding a job," said Senator Michael Nozzolio, who chairs the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee. "While the economic climate is difficult for all New Yorkers, those with prior criminal convictions have an even harder time gaining employment. I commend Governor Cuomo for spearheading his ‘Work for Success’ initiative to help this vulnerable population to rebuild their lives and return to being productive, contributing members of our state."


Evaluating, Streamlining, Improving

Over the next year, Work for Success will evaluate existing employment programs for the recently incarcerated and identify the most effective strategies; create correctional programs that will promote relevant job skills; align vocational skills programs with employment opportunities to help connect New Yorkers returning from prison with job opportunities; and build the ability of community groups including The Fortune Society to serve these persons’ unique needs.



October 3, 2011

Farrell, Rodriguez and Vance Join Drug Policy Panel

Assemblyman Farrell on September 22 joined City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. and City and Federal drug enforcement officials in a panel discussion of drug policy issues held in the Marathon Room of The Armory at Fort Washington Avenue and 168th Street.

The meeting was held in Washington Heights to highlight the community's transformation from a battleground in the war on drugs to a thriving family-friendly neighborhood. Also participating in the panel discussion were City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske, Wilbert L. Plummer of the DEA, City narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan and representatives of the health services field.

Federal and local statistics show that while overall drug use has decreased, abuse of prescription drugs - particularly pain medication - is on the rise. A 2010 Federal drug use survey found that more than half of persons who admitted to using prescription painkillers said they got the pills from a friend or relative and not a doctor. Studies have found that in some cases, when an addiction to painkillers becomes too expensive, users turn to street drugs.

During the discussion, District Attorney Vance announced his office will work with the DEA on October 29 to collect and dispose of unwanted or expired medication. A similar take-back effort on April 30 led to the collection and disposal of 188 tons of medicine at almost 6,000 collection sites across the country.



photo
Assemblyman Farrell and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly discuss public safety issues in the district during the African-American Day Parade, Sept. 18, 2011. Farrell and Kelly recently exchanged letters regarding the recent and abrupt reassignment of former 34th Precinct commander Deputy Inspector Jose Navarro. Farrell's letter appears below. Also shown are former Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. and Assemblyman Guillermo Linares.


Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY

August 17, 2011

Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly
New York Police Department
One Police Plaza
New York, NY 10038

Dear Commissioner Kelly,

I am writing in response to a disturbing article in this morning's paper regarding the recent reassignment of Deputy Inspector Jose Navarro, which, in the article, is described as a response to what the paper calls a spike in major crimes committed within the 34th Precinct. I sincerely hope that this nasty piece of press does not reflect your thinking or perspective on our situation.

This article is based exclusively on statistics showing an increase, from 2010 to 2011, in seven categories of major crime. It is my belief that without looking at statistics from the last five or more years, we cannot form an accurate picture of what is really happening. Therefore, we do not know if crime has gone up or down overall. Should we take a long view of the statistics, we may learn that last year Deputy Inspector Navarro was given command of a precinct where crime may have been on the rise before his arrival.

As I am sure you know, I am not one to accept problems in my district, particularly an increase in violent crime. But considering that Deputy Inspector Navarro has only been in charge of the precinct for a short time and that other factors are at play, it is imperative that we make a fair evaluation of what is happening in this neighborhood before assigning blame for these problems.

While I cannot quote statistics, I can state with certainty that in addition to the major crimes described in the news article, the last three commanders of the 34th Precinct have had to deal with continual increases in quality-of-life complaints. These complaints, which have jammed 311 and the 34th Precinct's telephones for years, include but are not limited to motorcycles racing on Dyckman Street and the West Side Highway, noisy bars, restaurants and motorcycles on Dyckman Street, and automobile racing north of 190th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

While these problems have been continuous over the last five or six years, because of factors beyond either of our control the number of officers assigned to the 34th Precinct has declined. I am sure that I do not need to remind you of how bitterly myself, other elected officials and members of the community have complained about reduced manpower for our precinct and the many times that we have asked for additional officers on the street.

In the past, you have been able to temporarily assign additional officers to the 34th with good effect. Only weeks ago, you committed additional manpower to the 34th Precinct in order to address major crimes (and we thank you). It is my belief that if these assignments were made permanent, the situation would markedly improve. At the very least, we should give these additional officers time to make a positive impact on this community before assigning blame for a spike in violent crime, especially in such a public and damaging fashion.

During the time that I have worked with Deputy Inspector Navarro in his role as commanding and executive officer, I have found that he has worked tirelessly with the community on the many issues we have just discussed. Word of his reassignment has generated a great deal of concern in the community.

I sincerely hope that steps can be taken by your office to eliminate the effects today's nasty press attack may have had on the Deputy Inspector's reputation. At the very least I would request that the additional officers you have recently assigned to the 34th Precinct be given more time to have a positive impact on crime in this community. If you wish to discuss this matter further please call my office and my staff will connect us.


Yours truly,

H. D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



August 13, 2010
Working for a Quieter Fort Tryon Park

photo
Assemblyman Farrell and Captain Jose A. Navarro, who was recently appointed commander of the NYPD's 34th Precinct, talk about how to control the car and motorcycle racing in Fort Tryon Park near Margaret Corbin Circle. While a lot of attention has been paid recently to the noise and traffic people who live along Dyckman Street are forced to deal with at night, those who live near Fort Tryon are bothered by revving engines, screaming and other nighttime noise. Captain Navarro has worked in the 34th Precinct for some time, previously serving as the Precinct's Executive Officer, and knows the area and its problems well. He is working closely with Assemblyman Farrell and other elected officials in order to improve the quality of life.


June 8, 2010
Fighting to Control Noise

photo
This van, which was converted to be an extremely loud concert on wheels, was confiscated by the NYPD this spring.

Excessive noise is a continuing problem throughout the community. I work closely with the police in our community, as well as officials at City and State agencies whose decisions affect our lives, in order to improve the quality of life here in our community.

Each spring, as the weather begins to turn warm, I meet with the heads of the NYPD's 30th, 33rd and 34th Precincts to talk about their plans to control the noise and what I can do to help. In the area near Riverside Park, there are times when park patrons disturb residents of the neighborhood with loud radios and other sources of noise. Special police patrols in the park are underway to control this noise.

At the northern end of the district there is also a noise problem that is causing growing community concern. The Dyckman Street area is known for its nightlife, which is a source of frustration for those who live nearby. Some of these establishments get licenses to set up chairs and tables on the sidewalk, where patrons' loud conversations, their shouting to passing cars and the honking of horns are not muffled by windows and walls. Other restaurants turn into nightclubs late at night, and blast pounding music until the early morning.

Many who live in this area are increasingly frustrated as more bars and restaurants are allowed to open their doors in this already busy neighborhood. I am in close contact with the head of the State Liquor Authority, and recently led him on a walking tour of Dyckman Street. One part of this tour took place during daylight hours, so that the commissioner could see what it looked like to have so many bars within only a few hundred feet of each other and of people's homes. The Chairman has promised ongoing, unannounced surveillance throughout the summer so that these establishments cannot clean up their act for one night and then go back to business as usual.

The Police Department's 34th Precinct has taken a stand against restaurants in this area receiving any more sidewalk seating permits, and police officials will be meeting with the public in the near future to talk about restaurant noise and other quality of life issues in the community. My staff and I will remain closely involved in these issues as we move forward.




Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY


May 18, 2010

Dear Neighbor,

Prior to yesterday's closing of Riverbank State Park and other parks, I have fought with the Governor over his plan to cut back the time parks are open and available to the community. Yesterday, many people who ordinarily go to the park in the morning to exercise found it closed. The bus drivers who use the park as a last stop, to turn around their buses, and to use the rest facilities in Riverbank State Park were not told ahead of time that the park would be closed, which created a problem for them.

photo
It is my opinion that the Governor is using the closures as a way to try to pass a budget on his terms. The Governor met with our Assembly conference Monday to discuss the problem, and I took the opportunity to challenge him on that point. As of now, both the Assembly and Senate have made our decisions and agreed to restore funding for State parks, but the governor continues to resist. I will continue to work to override his decision and save the parks.

In addition to telling you about our efforts to restore funding for our parks, I am writing to let you know that despite all that is going on with the Fiscal Year 2010-11 Budget and Albany politics, I am still focused on other important events and issues here at home in the district. When not in session in Albany, I have been meeting with members of the community, including local police officials such as Deputy Inspector Scott Shanley of the 30th Precinct (shown at right) and other persons who are prominent figures in the civic life of our community.

Issues in parks operated by the City are also part of my work day. Riverside Park, which is at the water's edge a short distance from your homes, is a popular spot for spring and summer recreation. Unfortunately, some members of the community choose to relax in ways that others find aggravating, by playing their radios loudly and other activities that detracts from the quality of life. On the back side of this letter, you may read my letter to Deputy Inspector Shanley soliciting our recent meeting. Every spring, we meet to discuss activities to expect in the park that season and what the 30th Precinct intends to do to keep the peace. I was pleased to learn that the police had gotten an early start on controlling noise and traffic in the park, and I hope you are pleased with the results. Feel free to call my office with any problems you are experiencing with regard to the park, and I will gladly pass along your concerns to the proper authorities.

I look forward to speaking with you on my weekend rounds of the district.

Yours truly,

Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.

Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY


May 13, 2010

Dear Neighbor,

I am writing to let you know that despite all that is going on with the Fiscal Year 2010-11 Budget and Albany politics, I am still focused on issues here at home. When not in session in Albany, I have been meeting with local police officials and other persons who are prominent figures in the civic life of our community.

photo
I also wanted to share with you that, in my last meeting with him before he moved on to a new assignment, 34th Precinct commander Deputy Inspector Andrew Capul showed off a van that had been loaded with a large number of speakers. Vehicles like this van (pictured at right) are responsible for some of the noise that is a major problem in some of our neighborhoods. Officers assigned to the 34th Precinct impounded this van, so life should be a little quieter for a while.

On a related note, a battle to stop yet another bar from opening up on Dyckman Street, which many in the community have followed with great interest, ended up going against us. You will find enclosed in this mailing a letter I recently wrote to Dennis Rosen, the new Chairman of the New York State Liquor Authority, explaining some of the concerns you have shared with me and taking him to task for not doing more to give the community a greater voice in the decision. While the Liquor Authority's decision in this matter may mean that we have to live with more noise and crowded sidewalks, it may be the case that the community's response to this restaurant will change the process by which future applications are handled.

I look forward to speaking with you on my weekend rounds of the district.

Yours truly,

Herman "Denny" Farrell, Jr.

Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY


May 7, 2010

Chairman Dennis Rosen
NYS Liquor Authority
80 South Swan Street
Albany, NY 12210-8002

Dear Chairman Rosen,

I am writing to reiterate and amplify the points I made during our recent telephone conversation, during which we discussed the New York State Liquor Authority's decision to grant a conditional on-premises liquor license to the proprietors of Vida Mexicana. This establishment is currently under construction at 223 Dyckman Street, which falls within my Assembly District. As you may recall, I was considerably distressed to learn several days after the fact this that decision had been reached. I apologize if, during our call, I came across as angry or abusive.

The truth of the matter as I see it is that the decision by your Board to grant this license was one-sided and unfair. To recapitulate, during a public hearing on August 18, 2009 that was heavily attended by both supporters and opponents of Vida Mexicana, one of the members of my staff who attended the hearing read into the record my written testimony in opposition to this bar receiving a license. To receive a liquor license, the applicant was required to go through a special hearing to receive permission to sell alcohol within 500 feet of three or more similarly licensed establishments. You are aware, from our conversations if not from experience, that there were at least three bars within 500 feet of 223 Dyckman Street at the time Vida Mexicana's application was filed. Many persons other than myself also submitted oral or written testimony against opening another bar.

One of the points made early in this licensing process that I would like to repeat is that this is not about who is buying and running these establishments. This is about noise and disruption in the community, especially on summer nights. This neighborhood has already picked up the unfortunate nickname of "Alcohol Alley" based on the large number of bars that are already in business. These problems led to the creation of a number of neighborhood groups that were organized to push back against the noise, public intoxication, loud music, sprawling sidewalk cafes and other disturbances that neighbors are forced to live with.

Both before and after the August 2009 hearing, members of my staff attempted to stay in touch with your staff to track the status of the Vida Mexicana application. I have been told that while early on Authority staff was quickly forthcoming with information about Vida Mexicana's application, many of my staff's more recent calls for information were not returned. These calls included one placed only a few days before the April 28, 2010 hearing at which Vida Mexicana's license was granted, but your staff did not volunteer the fact that a hearing had been scheduled. In fact, not even Community Board 12, which serves the Dyckman Street area, was notified.

Because of the intensity of the public interest on both sides of this decision, as evidenced by the multiple calls from the community to this office and the resulting multiple calls from this office to the Liquor Authority, it could be argued that the Authority should have done more to provide advance public notice that a decision on Vida Mexicana's application was pending. However, as these events transpired, members of the public that I have spoken with walked away from this application process with the sense that their interests are not being protected or even considered.

My position of leadership in the community aside, I find it striking that as an interested party who on two occasions submitted written testimony about this issue, I was not given the courtesy of advance notice that a second hearing had been scheduled for April 28, 2010. It is more striking that, as shown on the State Liquor Authority's own video record of this hearing, Vida Mexicana's owners were apparently given enough advance notice to round up several dozen supporters. Obviously, this is unfair, and situations like this must be handled better in the future. I hope that your past efforts to level the playing field by reigning in well-funded operatives in the liquor business will serve as your guide as you move forward in reforming the Liquor Authority.

While I would like to see your Board reverse the Vida Mexicana decision, or at least allow those in the community who wish to speak the opportunity to do so, I am not optimistic this will occur. However, during our telephone call, you offered to come in to the community, walk through this area and meet with residents, so they may point out to you the problems in this neighborhood. Several members of the neighborhood groups I mentioned above have already reached out to me in hopes of arranging a meeting with you to talk about these problems. On their behalf I accept your offer, and we will be in contact with your staff to ask to set up an appointment. I look forward to soon walking with you on Dyckman Street.

Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly


Assemblyman Farrell recently met with the commanders of the New York Police Department precincts in his district to discuss issues including noise in Riverside Park and along the Dyckman Street corridor. The letters to the police precincts are posted below.


Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY


April 5, 2010
Deputy Inspector Andrew Capul
New York Police Department, 34th Precinct
4295 Broadway
New York, NY, 10033

Dear Deputy Inspector Capul,

It appears, based the weather in recent days, that for all intents and purposes summer has come early and abruptly. I am concerned that as the temperate weather returns so will the noise complaints from those who live near the Dyckman Street corridor. Already, the neighborhood blogs in this area are lighting up with reports of vehicles blaring their radios and unanswered calls to your precinct. It is a matter of no small concern to me that these reports will be followed by other reports of drag racing, motorcyclists revving their engines, people drinking on the street, loud diners seated at sidewalk tables and other problems we have seen in years past.

Other than calling your attention to these blog reports, I am writing to ask that we meet at some time in the near future so that we may talk face-to-face about the noise and other quality-of-life concerns I share with residents of the Dyckman Street area. As you may know, I have spoken out against proposals to issue new liquor licenses in this neighborhood, and I am sure you are aware that more applications by new businesses seeking to serve alcohol are outstanding. This would likely make an already difficult situation more unmanageable and both of our jobs more difficult.

It is my understanding that your officers have expressed concerns about opening more bars on Dyckman Street, and I would like to take the time to discuss these concerns with you, while also relaying the comments I hear from people who live nearby. I look forward to hearing your plans to address these problems, and to a productive and ongoing discussion of these and other issues. Please expect a call from a member of my staff, who will be contacting you to set up a meeting at your earliest convenience.

Yours truly,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly


Seal
HERMAN D. FARRELL, JR.
Assemblyman 71st District

Room 923
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-5491
(518) 455-5776 FAX

CHAIRMAN
Ways and Means Committee

COMMITTEES
Rules
Black & Puerto Rican Caucus

THE ASSEMBLY
STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY


April 5, 2010

Deputy Inspector Scott A. Shanley
New York Police Department, 30th Precinct
451 West 151st Street
New York, NY, 10031

Dear Deputy Inspector Shanley,

As the last vestiges of March's back-to-back blizzards fade from memory as the snows have faded from our streets, it is once again time for our annual conversation about the noise that is generated in Riverside Park once the weather turns warm. To that end, I am looking forward to sitting down with you soon so that we may discuss issues related to the park.

I am certain that I do not need to remind you that a number of my constituents who live in the apartments on the hill overlooking the park are greatly disturbed by the loud noise, especially those whose windows open facing the river. Also disturbed are those who must confront traffic jams near the park that are sometimes caused at the entrance and exit to the West Side Highway which is adjacent to the parking lots, and litter that decorates the park grounds.

No matter the toll the ongoing economic problems may have on the manpower available to your precinct, hopefully we will be able to continue the approach to controlling these problems that has been employed for the last few years. Specifically, we must work to have adequate police patrols of the park area to the greatest extent possible, take steps to discourage excessive noise, keep traffic moving once parking lots are filled, and empty the lots at 8 p.m. whenever possible to have everybody out of the park and the gates locked by nine o'clock.

Please be assured that my staff and I will continue to drop by the park on weekends and evenings in order to keep abreast of what is happening, and will be available to you in order to help keep the peace. For now, please expect a call from a member of my staff who will schedule a meeting at your earliest convenience.


Most sincerely,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly



October 1, 2009

Update on the Dyckman Street Bar Situation

As the New York State Liquor Authority reviews an application by Vida Mexicana for a liquor license at 223 Dyckman Street, my staff and I have been paying closer attention to new applications by bars and restaurants hoping to do business in this neighborhood. So far, we have unearthed two wine bar applications which have received little attention. One of these is at 7 Henshaw Street, on the far side of the block from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 1815 Riverside Drive. The other is next door to Il Sole Restaurant, at 231 Dyckman Street.

It has come to my attention that there may be problems with the liquor license application filed by Il Sol in 2005, and I will be watching closely as their application is reviewed. As any new details come to light, I will post them here. Below, you will find a Freedom of Information Law request I sent to the SLA earlier today.

October 1, 2009

Deputy Commissioner Kerri O'Brien
NYS Liquor Authority
80 South Swan Street
Albany, NY 12210-8002

Dear Ms. O'Brien,

I am writing to follow up on our telephone conversation of earlier today. Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Law, I am formally requesting a copy of the New York State Liquor Authority's file on Sole Restaurant Inc. doing business as Il Sole Restaurant at 233 Dyckman Street, New York, NY.

This office seeks to review the documents submitted by the proprietors prior to SLA granting Il Sole Restaurant Inc. a liquor license for 229-233 Dyckman Street in February 2005, including but not limited to a lease and certificate of occupancy for the premises.

Your prompt attention to this matter is appreciated.

Thank you,
Herman D. Farrell, Jr.



September 22, 2009

Bill Tightening Bar Rules Becomes Law

A bill intended to prevent over-saturation of liquor-serving establishments in residential neighborhoods was signed into law by Governor Paterson September 16, 2009. This bill, which was supported by Assemblyman Farrell, would more closely regulate applications for new liquor licenses in areas like Dyckman Street, which according to some is now oversaturated with bars.

The bill (A.8518/Schimminger) closes loopholes in the state Alcoholic Beverages Law's '500-foot rule,' which was intended to prevent more than three establishments which serve liquor from opening their doors within 500 feet of each other without special permission from the State Liquor Authority. But previously, in considering applications SLA was required to consider only similar establishments; for example, reviewing bars within 500 feet but ignoring restaurants. The new state law is inclusive and requires SLA to look at all alcohol sellers within the 500-foot radius.

"When determining whether or not to grant new liquor licenses, the SLA must consider detrimental consequences it may have on the surrounding community. This new law will help to prevent neighborhoods from being overrun by the rowdy and noisy behavior of patrons, traffic and crime," Speaker Sheldon Silver said.

Assemblyman Farrell said the revamped law could prevent a repeat of a situation playing out on Dyckman Street, where SLA is considering granting a liquor license to a planned restaurant in an area some describe as noisy and chaotic after dark, and blame neighborhood bars for the noise.

"While business is an important part of our community, it is clear that there should be limits on business especially in respect to noise and disruption in family neighborhoods," Assemblyman Farrell said. "Already, many are up in arms over the late-night disturbances they associate with having too many bars and restaurants serving alcohol in small areas. I was pleased to support this very sensible clarification of the rules we have long used to balance commerce and community."



August 18, 2009

Assemblyman Farrell's Testimony in Opposition to
Issuing a Liquor License at 223 Dyckman Street

Delivered to the New York State Liquor Authority

My name is Denny Farrell. I represent the 71st Assembly District, consisting of Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights and Inwood.

I oppose the application by Vida Mexicana for an exception to the State Liquor Authority's 500-foot rule. I am joined in my opposition by Community Board 12, the NYPD's 34th Precinct and numerous persons who live within earshot of 223 Dyckman Street. I oppose approval of a liquor license on the grounds that the level of nighttime noise in this neighborhood is already unacceptable, and opening a fourth bar on this block would bring in more people and create more noise. There have been claims that nasty, racist-type letters have been sent to the owner of these businesses, and some might say that opposition to this restaurant is at the root of this. It is deplorable if these stories are true but they are not relevant to the issue at hand, which is over-saturation of licensing leading to over-congestion and additional noise.

New York State Liquor Authority rules, as I understand them, place the burden of proof on the applicant seeking an exception to the 500-foot rule, and require the applicant to establish that there will be a public advantage and convenience if their request for a liquor license is approved. I believe that this is not the case, and if the license is granted the applicant will realize far greater benefits than would the community which already lives among many similar establishments.

Already, by your applicant's admission there are three establishments within 500 feet of 223 Dyckman Street which possess liquor licenses, two of which he owns, and by my count there are eight businesses on Dyckman Street between Riverside Drive and Seaman Avenue which are currently licensed to sell alcohol. These are Parkview Cafe and Restaurant at 219 Dyckman; Patrick's Bar and Restaurant at 221 Dyckman; Il Sol Italian Restaurant and Bar at 233 Dyckman; Mama Sushi at 239 Dyckman; Mamajuana at 247 Dyckman; and at 4762 Broadway is Alberto's Mofongo House. There are also two convenience stores which are licensed to sell beer for off-premises consumption, which could lead to brown-bagging.

This saturation of alcohol retailers may bear some responsibility for a recurring problem that is quite trying for those who live nearby. There are persons who hang out in the street until early in the morning, playing their radios loudly and making other noise to the irritation of the neighbors. Others race their cars and motorcycles and otherwise disturb the peace. This spring I received a letter from a woman who told me that her nephew, who visited her apartment in this neighborhood earlier this year, was greatly disturbed by the noise at night. Her nephew is legally deaf, she told me. Other neighbors describe this area as an open-air nightclub or Mardi Gras in Manhattan, with dozens of people drinking in the streets until 3 a.m. Upon your request, I will provide you with late-night video recordings and other documents of this behavior which have been sent to me.

This situation occurs with three bars on this block. Imagine if this was your neighborhood. Now imagine that traffic and noise in your neighborhood were allowed to increase by over 30 percent.

Clearly, your applicant is certain that opening another bar in this already saturated neighborhood will not dilute the profits generated by the two nearby bars he already operates. Rather, he must believe that he will succeed in bringing even more people into this neighborhood to eat and drink in his establishments, and on the sidewalks outside, which can only increase the amount of noise and disturbance. On the contrary, because he already owns two successful businesses on Dyckman Street, by denying the exception he seeks for this bar you will not put your applicant in the poorhouse. It should be noted that it is fair to describe Vida Mexicana as a bar, and not only as a restaurant, because in his filing your applicant states he will close the kitchen at 1 a.m. but keep the doors open until 3 a.m. Bar receipts will drive his business during those two hours.

The July 7 vote by Community Board 12, which oversees this area, asking that Vida Mexicana's application be rejected should tell the State Liquor Authority all it needs to know about the effect that granting another liquor license would have on this neighborhood. Thirty-three to nothing is a clear message. That in the 34th Precinct's judgment the immediate area of this establishment is saturated with bars only reinforces the Community Board's point. This Precinct's commanding officer also notes over 100 complaints of noise and disorderly groups have been filed in this area and recommends against the outdoor sidewalk seating your applicant is planning to include. *

While I have nothing against a small business opening in to this or any neighborhood, given the noise and disturbances that are already epidemic I am adamantly opposed in granting a liquor license to an additional bar and ask that you find against its' issuance. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.

* While I am thankful for the response of Deputy Inspector Capul of the 34th Precinct and agree with the points of opposition he raises regarding Vida Mexicana's application, I strongly oppose his suggested compromise regarding the restaurant's hours of operation. The compromise he suggests would give rise to another set of problems, escalating complaints and arguments over whether or not the bar closed on time, while doing nothing at all to solve the underlying problems of increased congestion and noise.


August 19, 2009

Addendum to Assemblyman Farrell's Testimony in Opposition to Issuing a Liquor License at 223 Dyckman Street

Delivered to the New York State Liquor Authority

The following is an addendum to the written testimony I offered August 18, 2009 in response to an application by Vida Mexicana for a liquor license at 223 Dyckman Street, which would require an exception to the New York State Liquor Authority's 500-foot rule. This addendum was written in response to comments which were made before the presiding judge by Vida Mexicana supporters.

First, for the record, 223 Dyckman Street is within the 71st Assembly District which I represent, and also within the 81's Election District, and is not within the boundaries of the 72nd Assembly District which is represented by my colleague Adriano Espaillat. Any claims to the contrary are false.

Second, in regard to discussion of using a nearby gas station as a parking area for this proposed bar, moving forward with this plan would require your applicant to take legal steps which I do not believe that they have yet begun. Therefore, assuming this parking area will come to pass does not pertain to the discussion at hand.

Third, testimony was offered from several persons claiming to be police officers. While these persons certainly have the right as citizens to speak their minds for or against this proposed bar, their opinions do not carry any more weight than the opinions of any other private citizen. The city's official response was given via the NYPD's 34th Precinct, whose jurisdiction includes 223 Dyckman Street, is the only valid commentary on this proposal and strongly opposes allowing a fourth bar to open on this block, and also describes this area as saturated with alcohol retailers.

Sincerely,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.


Important Notice: Though the hearing on Vida Mexicana's application has come and gone, the SLA has not yet made a final decision and will be accepting written comments from the public at the address below until 3 p.m. Tuesday, August 25, 2009. Your comments will be scanned and entered into the records of this case. But you MUST send a copy of your remarks to Vida Mexicana as well. They will have until August 27 to respond to comments from the community.

New York State Liquor Authority
Hearing Bureau - Fourth Floor
317 Lenox Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Vida Mexicana
c/o Yamil Martinez
530 West 136th Street, Apt. 22
New York, NY 10031


Farrell Hails Dedication of Samuel J. Battle Plaza

August 11, 2009

Descendants of the first black New York Police Department officer, Samuel J. Battle, were joined at a ceremony dedicating West 135th Street and Lenox Avenue in honor of the late officer by Assemblyman Farrell and other elected officials as well as a large police turnout.

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Assemblyman Farrell speaks at a ceremony dedicating West 135th Street and Lenox Avenue as Samuel J. Battle Plaza, in honor of the first black NYPD officer. Shown to his left is NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, while at right is shown Lloyd Williams, President and CEO of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce.

Battle (Jan. 16, 1883 - Aug. 7, 1966) was the first black man to join the NYPD after the boroughs consolidated their individual police forces into the NYPD as it exists today. While two black officers were patrolling the city at that time, including Battle's brother-in-law Moses P. Cobb who was a Brooklyn patrolman, Battle is recognized as the NYPD's first black officer.

He faced racism and derision from his white fellow officers, but this did not stop him from distinguishing himself, first when he pushed through a crown gathered at 135th and Lenox and saved the life of a white officer, and later during riots in 1935 and 1943. Battle was appointed Parole Commissioner by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1941, and went on to work with delinquent Harlem youth before retiring in 1951 and continuing his work as a private citizen.

"In every field someone has to go first, and trailblazers like Sam Battle succeeded in pushing open the door so the rest of us could walk through it," Assemblyman Farrell said. "By 'pushing the door open,' I do not mean by force, because violence is not the answer. Rather, he was able to carry himself in such a way that he did not give his detractors the option of tearing him down. Sam Battle is a man to emulate, and this recognition was long deserved."

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Assemblyman Farrell is joined at the Samuel J. Battle renaming ceremony Aug. 4, 2009 by Dr. John Palmer of Harlem Hospital Center, at left, and Deputy Inspector Kevin Catalina of the NYPD’s 32nd Precinct.

Assemblyman Farrell Greets Incoming Manhattan North Police Chief Banks

July 23, 2009

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Assemblyman Farrell and his Staff Director, Al Taylor, recently welcomed new NYPD Manhattan North Police Chief Philip Banks III and officers under the Chief's command to a meeting in the Assemblyman's 2541-55 Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. District Office. Chief Banks, who is pictured above second from left, replaces Chief Raymond Diaz, who has been reassigned to the Manhattan South division. The NYPD announced their promotions June 26.

Also pictured are (from left) Detective Christine Sebastien, Assemblyman Farrell, Deputy Inspector Kevin Catalina of the 32nd Precinct, and Lieutenant Cathy Babilonia.

Chief Diaz had run Manhattan North for seven years prior to his promotion. He will replace outgoing Manhattan South Chief James Tuller, who is also a former Manhattan North chief. Chief Banks, who joined the NYPD in 1986, has been the commanding officer of five precincts, most recently Brooklyn South. All three men are among the NYPD's highest-ranking minority officers.

During this getting-to-know-you meeting, which took place after Chief Banks and his staff came calling and caught Assemblyman Farrell as he was leaving for another meeting in Jackie Robinson Park, they discussed issues including open-air bars, partying and street noise in various areas that have caused friction in the community and must be policed.

Assemblyman Farrell explained to Chief Banks that while violent and property crimes in the district have decreased, quality of life concerns seem to have increased, especially erratic motorcycle riding and 'car rodeos' where participants gather, race and play their radios loudly.




July 28, 2008

Dear Neighbor,

A month ago Councilman Robert Jackson and I met with Assistant Chief Raymond Diaz, head of the New York Police Department's Manhattan North division, and Deputy Inspector Andrew Capul, commander of the 34th Precinct, at my request to talk about ongoing problems with illegal street racing and other criminal and quality of life issues in our neighborhoods.

This meeting ended with a promise that we would be assigned a total of 14 new officers from the Police Academy, who will join the 34th Precinct. I am enclosing a letter I sent to Inspector Capul earlier today, thanking him for the Department's willingness to be more aggressive in dealing with our neighborhood problems. By the time you read this letter, the first of these officers are due to begin their patrols with others scheduled to join them in the very near future to counter this troublesome and dangerous behavior.

While many of these issues are year-round problems, some come to a peak in the summer months. Recently, I have heard many complaints from our neighborhoods including reports of persistent noisiness and crimes minor and major. A number of these issues are due to the actions of persons who show no regard to the safety and peace of mind the rest of us should enjoy.

Please rest assured that actions to correct these ongoing issues are underway, and that I will continue to work with you and the community to make our streets safe and peaceful.

Most sincerely,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly




July 28, 2008

Deputy Inspector Andrew Capul
Commander, NYPD 34th Precinct
4295 Broadway
New York, NY 10033

Dear Deputy Inspector Capul,

I am writing this letter to follow up on and clarify our recent telephone conversation. As you remember, earlier this month City Councilman Robert Jackson and I invited Chief Diaz and yourself to discuss illegal automobile and motorcycle racing, and other criminal and quality of life problems, that tend to occur during weekend evening hours in our neighborhoods after the weather turns warm.

At that meeting, one of the things we were hoping for was to have some of the soon-to-be-graduates of the Police Academy assigned to work in Washington Heights and Inwood. So I was very glad to hear that we will soon have a total of 14 new officers assigned to this area, the first seven of whom you said would begin their duties this coming weekend with the others expected to join them in the very near future.

So you are aware, I have also reached out to Chief Diaz to thank him for his help in getting us the additional officers. Please feel free to contact me if there is anything I can do to further assist this effort.

Sincerely,

Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
Member of Assembly


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