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SideBar Patrons Urinate, Vomit and Pass Out in $60K Garden, Residents Say

UNION SQUARE — These garden lovers are growing tired of having their plants watered.

Residents at a Union Square-area co-op building complained that customers of a popular sports bar nearby regularly damage their $60,000 garden by urinating, vomiting and even toppling over into it on a daily basis.

Tenants of 145 E. 15th St., a co-op building with 215 units, recently complained to Community Board 6 about rowdy patrons of SideBar, which they said regularly packs in crowds across the street from the residence at the corner of Irving Place.

“Our garden is pretty expensive, and it runs half the length of the block,” said Gerard Mounic, president of the 145 E. 15th St. Tenants Association. “But we’ve had to redo the garden recently because of the patrons who wreak havoc in [it].”

The space, which wraps around the front of the property, originally cost the tenants $60,000 to create. The co-op pays about $5,000 to $8,000 quarterly to maintain it, Mounic said.

“We have to buy new plants, and soil is expensive,” he said. “Things have died. The garden is important to the tenants and really adds good quality of life to our building.”

But the green space is damaged on a daily basis by trash and vomit brought on by SideBar’s customers, building superintendent Peter Gjoni said.

"Sometimes I see whole bushes stomped on and flowers yanked out and plenty of trash," said Gjoni. "Sometimes there's vomit on the sidewalk and in the garden."

During the summer months, the garden is home to hydrangeas, boxwoods, roses and several perennial and annual flowers, said Iris Kaplow, the building's gardener.

The problem gets worse during pub crawls, said Mounic, who noted that traffic near SideBar triples on those occasions. In response, many residents have called 311, but to no avail, he added. 

“There are other bars nearby, like Shades of Green, who don’t have as many problems,” Mounic said. “It’s not that we don’t want [SideBar] in the neighborhood, we just want them to change how they do business.”

Some residents of the building said that noise coming from the SideBar crowd is another issue.

“There’s a scaffolding here, so when it rains a lot of times the crowds gather here,” said David Antis, a resident of 145 E. 15th St. for 30 years. “They just hang out and scream and shout.”

In response to the complaints, SideBar co-owner Zach Israel, who attended the community board meeting on Feb. 28 in search of a liquor license renewal, promised residents he would leave his direct number in the window of the bar so that community members could call him when issues arise.

He also promised to double security during pub crawls.

“All bars have problems, but we had no idea that it was to this extent,” Israel said. “We will take care of them.”

The community board ultimately voted to support SideBar's liquor license application under certain conditions.