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For the safety of Nyack residents, the Village of Nyack placed a ban on alcohol that started Wednesday night and is ongoing until all street and traffic lights have been restored, according to Mayor Jen Laird-White.
On Friday, the ban changed to a service curfew of 10 p.m. All businesses are allowed to serve food and alcohol until 10 p.m. To discuss concerns with the curfew, business owners asked White for a 10:30 a.m. meeting preceeding White's 11 a.m. Hurricane Sandy Village hall Q&A session. The Nyack Chamber of Commerce is also advising businesses to hold off on the sale of alcohol.
White listed the reasons for the 10 p.m. curfew on businesses:
- “We don’t have properly powered street lights. The streets are quite dark.” She added that there have been many close accidents with drivers not treating downed traffic lights as a stop sign.
- “Because of an incredible number of emergencies town-wide, we are down in the number of police officers we have covering late-night activity. A single bar fight leaves us with zero policing for domestic violence, car accidents, for someone getting electrocuted from the multitude of still-down power lines.”
“The original implementation of both curfew and ban on alcohol service was based purely on public safety,” she said. “It was not meant to inconvenience any of you. We understand that those of you who are fortunate enough to exist on the hospital grid and have power, want to get your businesses up and running; three-quarters of the downtown is still without power and according to the most recent timeline, it may be that way until Nov. 11."
She added that the village officials understood the busineses concerns, but that their first issue must be public safety.
“We know you want to get back to serving, we know you want to feed people, we know that our residents would love to be able to come into the downtown, have something to eat before they go back to their cold dark houses. We are aware of this. We’re re-examining this issue on a daily basis.”
Orangetown Police Chief Kevin Nulty said that the “curfew was originally for 6 p.m. but we extended it to 10 p.m. because people in the village need to eat and need a drink.”
“We cut off alcohol service at 10 p.m.; this way there won’t be people coming to the village from outside the village there is still a travel advisory in the county. We do not want people coming to the village because of the lighting situation, because of the (thinly-spread) police in the communities still,” he said.
Nulty added that this decision was a joint one made among the police, the mayor and village board. The curfew will be put in place Friday night and they’ll “keep on re-assessing it” if needed.
Kaete Nazaroff’s husband owns two Nyack businesses that are both still out of power.
“I have two small children, my husband has two businesses—both with no power—that are our main source of income, but I think the village is doing a great job handling this situation so far,” said Nazaroff. “Safety should come first.”
Officials said they want people off the streets after 10 p.m. and don’t want people from outside the village coming into town because “it gets pretty feisty here after midnight from the drinking. I’ve been talking with police and we’ve had increased domestic (cases) and alcohol seems to always to be an issue. People are at each other’s throats in their own households and we don’t want that to spill onto the streets,” said Nulty, adding that there was one case of looting (Thursday) night at a Nyack deli.
He added that there are plain-clothes officers checking establishments and those that violate the curfew may get a misdemeanor charge.
“In my 37 years on the police department, this is a very extraordinary circumstance. I’ve never seen it like this. I think we’re airing on the side of public safety and caution. It’s dangerous down here in these low-light conditions.”
However, most business owners are speaking out against the curfew saying that not only does it hurt busineses, but also the community members who need a place to go for heat or food.
“People are coming to my business to watch TV, for heat and then (the village) wants us to send them home at 10 p.m.,” said Sean Spicer, co-owner of the Pour House in Nyack. “We know where (the village officials) are coming from, but disagree.”
“My power went out at 9 p.m. Monday night. I have no power, no news, no food,” said Mike DeLuca, a new Nyack resident, who lives right across the street from the Pour House. “(The curfew), it’s unenforceable.” Spicer said that it was unfortunate that he had to “kick him (DeLuca) out.”
Heidi Nolan, who works at the Pour House, suggested that the village close down streets at night and the locals can walk to the businesses.
“That way people with no heat or electricity can come,” she said. “We just want to help out the community.”
One resident asked if businesses could open past 10 p.m. without serving food or drinks, but serve as a shelter.
Marianne Olive, owner of Olive’s and Sour Kraut in Nyack, asked the village to consider allowing businesses to keep food service going past 10 p.m.
“I want to open and be a place where people can get warm, get a bite to drink. My kitchen is normally open until 2 a.m. Is there a way to get the kitchens open past 10 p.m. and not serve alcohol?” she asked. “It’s really not rowdy and frankly, there’s not going to be that much people. Some people don’t have (power) and it’s freezing cold and dark and people want to (get out) and talk to people.”
White said that “it’s not just about alcohol. It’s about lateness and darkness and streets not functioning. The county has a travel advisory so they don’t want people coming to Nyack.”
“We’ve had blackouts before, we’ve never had to shut down our downtown,” said Rob Lewis, owner of O'Donoghues Tavern and part-owner of Pour House in Nyack. “Other parts of Orangetown have their lights on and they’re serving.”
Chris Monaco, a resident of South Nyack, said that other towns, such as Blauvelt, are in similar conditions as Nyack but businesses are allowed to operate as usual.
“It’s about people who own and work in these establishments who need to support their families. Everyone has to pay their bills,” said Monaco. “I had to go to Bailey’s in Blauvelt with my wife last night to get some food and a drink. They don’t have power, they don’t have lights. We’re looking at a town (Nyack) that is shut down after 10 p.m. when another town (Blauvelt) under the same jurisdiction of the Orangetown Police Department, has been open for business … everyone gets to get together, neighbors, friends. We are all people who live in this town. We’re not kids. We’re residents and citizens.”
Other people mentioned the unlevel playing field in that Pearl River had more Orangetown police officers because they had power and were up and running.
Nulty clarified by saying that Nyack usually has two officers, but now has three and a supervisor.
Olive also brought up the fact that Hudson Valley Restaurant Week begins this weekend, adding that right now, it seems like the village is deterring people from coming to Nyack.
Check back with Nyack Patch for more on this and meeting