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Crime is Down but Noise Still Nettles

Williamsburg residents feel under siege from excessive noise and late-night rowdiness from local bars and restaurants in the neighborhood.

Concern over noise reached its apex October 20 at a Community Board 1 meeting (211 Ainslie St.), as two dozen Williamsburg residents spoke out against the prevalence of bars along Grand and Metropolitan avenues, spurred by a pending vote on a liquor license application for Custom Wine Bar at 644 Driggs Avenue.

“I think we’ve gotten away from the families being raised in Williamsburg,” said Williamsburg resident Luis Santiago. “I’m sure the intentions are all good, but when do we put a stop to these establishments serving alcohol? It’s not easy dealing with this rowdiness on a daily basis.”

One man, representing 10 residents in a building on South 1st Street off Bedford, chastised the restaurant on the ground floor below for having a raucous crowd in its courtyard. Another complained about a nearby bar which he says has done little to curb noise levels at night.

“I need your help,” said James Barron. “The guy who owns the bar doesn’t live in the community and the people he serves don’t live in this community either.”

Despite noise over the application for Custom Wine Bar, the community board wound up approving its liquor license 17-14.

Many residents who opposed Custom’s liquor license application pointed to the prevalence of bars opening on Grand Street as contributing negatively to Williamsburg’s reputation as a restaurant and bar destination.

CB1 member Susan Albrecht, who voted against the bar’s application, felt that the establishment should have accommodated the community more concerning the hours they were open.

“I’m not against restaurants or bars, but there is an overarching issue that we have to look at saturation levels for bars and restaurants and how that is impacting the residential community,” said Albrecht.

Other community board members, including Monsignor Joseph Calise, father of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (275 North Eighth St., Williamsburg), who voted for the bar, acknowledged that noise issues must be better enforced, though he felt that Custom Wine Bar was being singled out.

“To say that there is a problem in the neighborhood is true, but that doesn’t mean that these guys, who for all appearances want to open a very respectable place, should pay the price for people’s mistakes,” said Calise.

While there have been no crime incidents in the past two years in the area where the bar may open — the blocks surrounding Driggs and Metropolitan Avenue — it is one that the 90th Precinct keeps tabs on.

“That area in particular, Driggs, Metropolitan and Grand, in the last few years is in a transition and it’s an area we pay particular attention to,” said 90th Precinct Deputy Inspector Michael Kemper. “It’s an area we constantly patrol.If something becomes a neighborhood nuisance, we’ll dedicate resources to correct it.”

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