Written by Rich Forestano Wednesday, 26 June 2013 00:00
Harinder Singh, manager of Empire Billiards on Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park, plead guilty to building code violations in village court last week. The hall has been subject of recent criticism from village officials and residents.
The first violation stemmed from Empire practicing as a billiard hall without a permit. The village revoked its permit last year. New Hyde Park also recently ordered the club to remove a DJ booth and dance floor, according to Mayor Robert Lofaro.
Two fines totaled $250 and were due on Friday, June 28. John Turano, a Garden City-based attorney handling the proceedings, recommended the fines be increased to $2,000. An uptick of that magnitude would need to be finalized by the village board, according to Acting Village Justice Robert Morici.
“So there is no permit [for billiards],” Morici said. “Mr. Singh, you’re here individually because the summons was issued to you…The statute reads the way it reads as far as the fine is concerned. We all have opinions, myself included of whether the fine should be more than it is, but it’s not my place.”
Singh stated that his friends were at the hall when he wasn’t present and played pool, when the summons was issued and that they were not paying customers. “They just happened to play a game,” he said.
“I don’t know what the fines are for more than two violations, but my advice is please don’t find yourself in court with violations anymore,” said Morici.
According to Turano, the second violation was of a decorative nature. The pool hall’s window shades were not of the required 54 inches from the ground.
“They want to be able to see inside,” Singh said.
Should Empire violate the code again, increases will be factored in, according to village court officials.
“You’re throwing money away,” Turano said of code non-compliance during a preliminary hearing before seeing Morici.
A raucous June 15 evening elicited 911 calls from nearby residences, Third Precinct Deputy Inspector Robert Musetich said. Empire was summonsed and will appear before the State Liquor Authority.
“If we have five people outside the hall, someone complains, if we have 20 people outside the hall, someone complains,” Singh said after the hearing. “Overreaction. That’s what it is.”
Nassau police recently told village officials that 14 official complaints have been filed against Empire in 2013. Fights, parking issues, noise and public urination near Empire, but not necessarily stemming from the hall, were a few issues raised by concerned residents at a recent village board meeting.
“[Empire] will have to appear before the State Liquor Authority,” Musetich said. “We’ve also had issues with BP Gas Station.”
Village reps, including its attorney Benjamin Truncale, met with Third Precinct Commanding Officer Sean McCarthy last month. Musetich and Problem Oriented Police Officer Nick Mosesso attended a board meeting on June 18 with additional information concerning Empire.
“What we need, and it’s something I brought up several times, are random police patrols,” Albert Street resident Bruce Hecht said.
Noise issues are prevalent near the hall and Memorial Park, but Musetich said the recent stabbing incident that had residents in an uproar at a May meeting, had nothing to do with Empire.