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Billiard Hall Draws Ire Of Residents

Village meets with

Third Precinct commanding officer

Asking for ice to put a human appendage in was the last straw for Jennifer Schneider, who lives a stone’s throw from Empire Billiards on Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park.

The club is the bane of village residents and drew mass criticism at a May 21 village board meeting. Village officials were alerted to a mugging near Electrolux, where two men beat up a Hillside Boulevard resident, according to Mayor Robert Lofaro.

Two weeks ago, village officials said a stabbing occurred near the billiard club. Village reps, including its attorney Benjamin Truncale, met with Third Precinct Commanding Officer Sean McCarthy on May 28.

Details of the meeting are unknown. McCarthy did not return calls seeking comment. An Empire employee refused to comment on the meeting when reached via telephone by the New Hyde Park Illustrated News.

“I live around the block, three houses down and an EMT walks up to me and asks for ice to put an ear in,” she said. “It’s disgusting. There’s stabbings, shootings, people getting hit by cars because of fights... It’s uncalled for.”

The village board denied a license to operate billiard tables in 2012 and violators are subject to fines ranging from $75 to as much $10,000 if repeat offenses occur. New Hyde Park ordered the club to remove a DJ booth and dance floor. According to Lofaro, village building department reps surveyed Empire, affirming its compliance.

Nassau police told village officials that 14 complaints have been filed against Empire in 2013. Nearby residents say that’s not the case.

“The last three weekends, six out of seven nights, there were multiple police responses,” said Sean O’Conner, a retired police officer. “Those are complaints. That’s more than 14. I have been addressing this issue since 2001. I personally, wrote out 10 SLA (State Liquor Authority) violation reports. I’m not looking to close them.  I don’t care if they’re a pool hall…but that is a dance club!”

Lofaro said police don’t feel 14 is a large number.

“I had indicated there’s a few areas that are troublesome, problem areas, and have asked county police to do more enforcement,” Lofaro said. “Memorial Park is one of them for loitering, Nuzzi Park is another. North 12th Street is a problem area and certainly, one of them is the activities going on at Empire Billiard.”

Village residents swarmed the email box of the village, according to officials. A mosh pit is what Claudia O’Connor, Sean’s wife, described her house on the weekends.

“There was a period when it was quiet,” she said, “but now, they have people throwing up on our lawn; empty bottles of vodka, and other bottles of god knows what. I was up all night because in my house, it’s like a dance club: boom, boom, boom all night long.”

Fights, parking issues, noise and public urination near Empire are a few issues Lofaro listed that he’d address with police.

 “I will say honestly, the Village of New Hyde Park, in our code enforcement activities, have not been as active as we should,” Lofaro said. “We spoke about this matter about a week and a half ago. Basically, there are some other matters we need to define and refine with the commander of the Third Precinct.”

Trustee and village building department liaison Lawrence Montreuil said Empire would be summonsed if they were in violation of the village code. Concerning noise complaints, Montreuil noted the village would visit the site with noise meters.

“The frustrating part of it is we can’t just walk in and shut them down,” Lofaro said. “We need to have legal reason to do so. We want them to be compliant with village codes. These are the things, that with our village attorney, with the Third Precinct, and the superintendent of public works, need to be done.”