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Community Support Brews for East Side Pub Crawl Ban

By Amy Zimmer | April 29, 2011 4:55pm | Updated on April 30, 2011 9:23am
New York Pub crawlers, like these from a recent
New York Pub crawlers, like these from a recent "SantaCon," may soon feel unwelcome on the east side.
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By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

GRAMERCY — Neighborhood support is brewing for a pub crawl ban on the bar laden streets of the East Side.

Members of Community Board 6's Business Affairs and Street Life Committee held its second of two meetings on Thursday to discuss ways to could curtail organized bar-hopping events like one promoted by Groupon for this year's St. Patrick's Day, which outraged residents.

Committee vice chair Stephen Dubnoff said he will be drafting legislation to be discussed at next month's meeting and voted on in June that will ask "appropriate officials" — either city officials or the State Liquor Authority — to crack down on the events.

"We're asking them to use the authority they have to stop this," he said.

"We're not going to affect someone who goes on Facebook or Twitter and says, 'Hey I'm going to such and such a bar. Come meet me," Dubnoff acknowledged. "I'm talking about organized unpleasantness."

The New York Nightlife Association opposes such a move.

Having a pub crawl isn't illegal, the association's lawyer Robert Bookman said.

"There's no plan to make it illegal," he said.  "There is no mechanism for the community board to make it illegal."

The St. Patricks Day crawl was a three-day drinkathon that included a Union Square bar, touting the holiday as "more than drinking copious amounts of beer and shamrock shakes with fellow rowdy hooligans — it's three days of that."

Neighbors are concerned these events encourage binge drinking, which has led to noise and revellers puking in the streets in the past.

With pub crawls like the St. Patrick's one, "the end result is not good: too many young people drinking too much in a neighborhood already saturated with bars, leading to drunken 'kids' on the street, fights, etc.," Catherine Sigal and Jerry Rosenkrantz, co-chairs of the East Side Neighborhood Coalition, wrote to CB 6 in support of a ban.

Community Board 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.

"These events exacerbate the existing problems created by too many bars in our neighborhood and for residents, pub crawls are like rubbing salt in a wound," Sigal and Rosenkrantz wrote.

Other community organizations, including the Sutton Place Area Community group, are writing letters commending a proposed ban, too. 

A few residents backing a ban attended. But no bar owners showed up to Thursday's meeting to defend the public's right to crawl from venue to venue.

Community board members are already bracing for another Groupon-promoted pub crawl for Cinco de Mayo, $10 for a $15 ticket from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on May 5.

The pub crawls "attract business for all the surrounding businesses," said Lynette Cesaro, events coordinator for Public House on East 41st Street, which is participating in the upcoming crawl.

"The people in pub crawls we've been involved with are not walking around vomiting and acting like drunken fools," Cesaro said.

Her bar attracts a crowd of 25 to 35 year olds mostly from Murray Hill, she said, not out-of-towners

"I'm sure older people see things in a different light," she said. "I like to think of that at our establishment we would not be letting riff raff in here anyway."

The CB 6 committee is trying other ways to curtail the late-night rowdiness in their area by having new bars, who come before them for liquor license approval, pledge to close down by 2 a.m. — which is often a sticky point for owners since state law allows bars to open until 4 a.m.

Bookman thought it would be more "productive" for the community board to meet with his organization to discuss ways to better respond to pub crawls and curb "irresponsible" behavior, perhaps, for instance, to reach out to police to man the area as they do with street fairs, he suggested.

"These are appropriate issues to discuss," Bookman said. "We would be happy to sit down with them."