By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
GRAMERCY — Residents on the East Side are exploring ways to prevent their bar-laden streets from turning into a giant sewer because of pub crawls, which residents say hit new levels of noise and vomiting on St. Patrick's Day.
Members of Community Board 6's Business Affairs and Street Life Committee held its first of two meetings on Thursday to discuss the possibility of a ban or other ways they could curtail organized bar-hopping groups. No members from the community nor any bar owners showed up to defend the public's right to pub crawl.
CB 6, which spans the east side from 14th to 59th Street, has seen a proliferation of bars, especially in Murray Hill along Second and Third avenues. They have become havens for the post-collegiate crowd, particularly the bridge-and-tunnel crowd, residents said.
"We understand this is New York," committee vice chair Stephen Dubnoff said at the meeting. "But there is no reason you should have a 30- or 40-block sewer." When bars got too crowded on St. Patrick's Day, patrons "had to wait outside on the street without the benefit of plumbing," he added.
Committee chair Carol Schacter said she knew a woman with a walker struggling to pass a group of pub crawlers at 2 p.m. recently. They told her to "eff off," Schacter recounted at the meeting.
This initial public meeting was just a brainstorming session to discuss approaches to curtail the problem, whether it's going to the City Council and asking for new rules or discussing the issue with the State Liquor Authority.
Hoboken police, for instance, adopted a zero-tolerance policy for public drinking, disorderly conduct and public urination on St. Patrick's Day, Dubnoff noted.
Dubnoff was particularly aggrieved by a Groupon promotion for a three-day pub crawl, which included the Union Square spot SideBar, that said: "St. Patrick's Day is more than drinking copious amounts of beer and shamrock shakes with fellow rowdy hooligans — it's three days of that."
"A number of people have asked that these things be banned or limited," Dubnoff said. "We don't know if we can do that. ... This is really in its nascent stage."
SideBar bartender Lauren Ferrante told the New York Post a pub crawl ban was unrealistic.
"People are just going to make their own pub crawl, even if it's not sponsored," she said to the Post. "It's not going to stop someone sending out an invitation to 2,000 people on Facebook, and I'm sure bars will throw out some drink specials."
The CB 6 committee plans to hold its next public meeting on the topic on April 28 before deciding whether they'll take the issue to the full community board.
"We're just starting this," Dubnoff said. "It probably will take a long time."