Written by Christy Hinko Friday, 06 January 2012 00:00
(Editor’s note: AMC Loews Theatre in Levittown was unable to make an official statement and calls to obtain a statement from the AMC Corporation were not returned.)
On Saturday, Dec. 17 hundreds of community members turned out in support of the Town of Hempstead’s rally against the AMC Theatres Nassau Metroplex 10’s application with the New York State Liquor Authority to begin serving alcohol to moviegoers.
Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Gary Hudes led the Levittown community at a rally to express disapproval for the company’s proposal to sell alcoholic beverages. The theater at 3585 Hempstead Turnpike is also known as Loews Theatre, in Levittown.
Hudes said, “I’m familiar with this theater, as town councilman for this community in the past, I’ve met with representatives of this property regarding issues with youth vandalism, fighting and graffiti.” He said, with the existing issues, he feels the community is being “asked to look the other way while liquor is being introduced into a dark theater occupied by impressionable youth.” He said law enforcement is virtually impossible within the establishment.
Hudes demonstrated with several containers how simple it would be for a legal alcohol purchase to be made, but then transferred to an empty water bottle or other soda container inconspicuously, where underage drinking could continue for hours, undetected. He also urged the community to rally and voice their concerns for the state to deny the liquor application.
Coincidentally, campers from the Town’s Camp Anchor program were participating in a separate field trip to the movie theater at the same time the rally was in progress. Murray said, “At times we’ve had some of our campers [of Camp Anchor] pick up food and drinks that were left behind, God forbid, we now have alcohol in the theater and a child who has special needs doesn’t understand that maybe they shouldn’t pick up the drink, and they do.” She said, as easily, this could happen with any child.
Murray said the AMC Loews Theatres did offer to meet with the Town about their application. Murray said, she and Hudes agree they do not want a private meeting with the company; they want the corporation to come to Levittown and address the community, its customers. Murray said she urges AMC Loews to withdraw its application for a liquor license, come to Levittown and have a well-publicized meeting, hear the community’s concerns and then continue with their business decision.
“AMC should have met with the community in the first place, before it put in for a liquor license,” Murray said. “It would have been the proper and respectful thing to do as a member of the community.”
On Dec. 12 Murray and Hudes outlined their disdain for the plan in a letter sent to the chairman of the New York State Liquor Authority. Murray and Hudes called on the state Liquor Authority to deny the AMC’s application to sell booze in addition to the traditional cinema fare of popcorn, soda and candy.
Many other community leaders turned out in support of the AMC Loews Theatre withdrawing its liquor license application, including David McDonough, Michael Pappas, Kevin Regan, Dennis Dunne, Gary Hudes, Steve Dalton, George Maragos, and James Carver.
Assemblyman David McDonough brought up the issue of not only underage drinking, but legal alcohol consumption that could lead to violating Leandra’s Law, a law passed last year that makes it illegal to have children in a vehicle while driving drunk. McDonough also urged the public to sign a petition, to protest the theater’s intention to serve alcohol.
Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver gave the police department’s perspective on the liquor application and reminded the community of past issues with vandalism when the youth patrons would leave the same theater.
Levittown School Board President Michael Pappas, who is also a retired NYPD officer, said, “Families in communities need wholesome venues.” He shared that as a police officer for half of his life, he has witnessed first-hand the effect of alcohol on communities when children are exposed. He said, “We are not going to let this happen.” He said his message to Loews would be, “If you do this, we won’t come; we are Levittown.”
Levittown Kiwanis member and School Board Secretary Kevin Regan said, “We support our businesses here, but on the other hand we ask them to be good neighbors and in no size, shape or form is Loews being a good neighbor with this proposition.” Regan made the analogy that if serving alcohol in the movie theater is OK, then why is it not OK to put a bar in the school.
The Town of Hempstead has form letters available on the Town website that can be completed and sent to the New York State Liquor Authority, in opposition of the theater’s application. Murray and Hudes encouraged all community members to submit a letter to the state authority. Form letters were distributed at the rally, but can also be obtained in printable and e-mail format on the town website, www.toh.li.