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Pol Warns About Documenting Dyckman Street Mayhem

By Carla Zanoni | September 13, 2012 12:58pm | Updated on September 13, 2012 4:53pm

INWOOD — Neighborhood watchdogs who have concerns about the increasingly raucous scene on Dyckman Street should take care when documenting illicit behavior, an upper Manhattan city councilman warned Wednesday night.

Robert Jackson, who represents parts of Washington Heights and Inwood, warned would-be sleuths to be careful when photographing or videotaping unsavory behavior in the neighborhood.
"Don't put yourself in a compromising situation," Jackson counseled, after reports of increasing altercations between frustrated residents and unruly patrons of Dyckman Street bars and restaurants.
Sources said there have been several violent incidents between patrons and residents in the past two years, including one last year in which a woman taping crowds outside of Mamajuana Cafe was accosted by a patron.
Jackson suggested that activists videotape raucous or illegal activity from across the street, for example, and not get too close to their subjects.
Jackson also repeatedly voiced his commitment to working with residents and Dyckman Street business owners to find the right balance between their needs in the community.
"There must be a compromise where residents will also be able to enjoy their neighborhood," he said later adding that some of the issues on the strip have to do with the patrons on the sidewalk and street and not inside the establishments. 
Despite scores of meetings held between residents, restaurant owners and community leaders during the past five years, the only solution to come out of every meeting on the subject has been to call for more meetings, frustrated locals said.

"It's amazing to me that we are back at square one," said Maria Vasquez, 34, an Inwood resident who said she has attended mulitple fruitless community forums and meetings with Dyckman Street business owners since 2010.

Critics say that the Dyckman corridor has gone from a quiet, residential street to a boozy and brawl-filled nightlife district — a shift they say was first fueled by restaurants like Papasito Mexican Grill and Agave Bar and Mamajuana Cafe and made worse by Inwood newcomer La Marina.

"Dyckman Street has turned into Bourbon Street," Inwood resident Gary Bernstein, 52, said of the situation.

Jackson said he would ask the Department of Transportation to study congestion, including potentially redirecting traffic.

"I don't know if it'll work, but you have to try something," he said.