(Middle Village, NY November 2, 2009) For more than a year, the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) has received complaints from neighbors about noisy parties being held by the Haspel-Staab Veterans of Foreign War Post 551, located at 84-02 60th Avenue in Middle Village. The problems heightened when the Post ‒ no longer run by World War II veterans ‒ decided to bring their indoor parties outside, converting their fifteen-foot wide driveway next to their clubhouse into a place to party ‒ all set with tables, a tent, chairs, lights, and barbecue grills.
JPCA offered to mediate the dispute. Rather than meet with the neighbors and JPCA, however, the Post instead hired a lawyer, Thomas Monaghan of Broad Channel. Monaghan advised Community Board No. 5 he would file an application with the New York State Liquor Authority ("SLA") to expand the Post's existing liquor license into the converted driveway to permit the Post to erect four tables and allow at least 24 people to drink alcohol and hold parties on any day of the year. There were no restrictions on the number of parties, the time of day or night, and the rental of the driveway to non-members.
Forty-one neighbors of the Post, including JPCA members, signed a petition against the outside drinking application, and Community Board No 5 held a public hearing. The Post attended that hearing but then abandoned the Board and its Land Use Committee, immediately filing its application with the SLA. Thus, the Post denied the Board any further chance to try to resolve the matter.
The Post also rejected an invitation by Gene Burch, former State Senator Maltese's Veterans Affairs Advisor and President of the local American Legion Post, to sit down with the neighbors and discuss their concerns. The Post receives $10,000 in special State Funding sponsored by the former Senator to help pay for repairs and maintenance, including its heating and insurance bills. Residents also wrote to Senator Addabbo, who continues to fund the Post, but still no luck.
In the meantime, the SLA collected information and examined the application. On October 28, 2009, the SLA's Full Board, consisting of three commissioners, held a hearing. In attendance for the Post were Attorney Monaghan; Michael Brown, Commander of the Post; Harry Perks, Vice Commander; John Ginivan, Quartermaster; and Tom Lynch, another Post officer. Local resident Ralph P. DeSanto, whose home is adjacent to the Post's driveway, and Bob Holden, JPCA President, expressed the community's concerns about the noise being generated by the parties.
After hearing each side speak, the Board unanimously disapproved VFW Post 551's application. One of the Commissioners noted that the Post was located in an entirely residential area and, in fact, was "right up against a neighbor" [Mr. DeSanto's home].
The JPCA now waits to see if the Post will honor the SLA ruling or if further action will be necessary.