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Jun 2, 2010 11:14 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town officials revisit idea of charging clubs for additional police presence

Jun 2, 2010 11:14 AM

On Saturday afternoon, at least a half dozen Southampton Town Police cruisers were parked directly in front or within a mile of the hugely popular Neptune Beach Club on Dune Road in Hampton Bays, the officers watching the throngs of sun-loving—and often intoxicated—patrons spill in and out of taxicabs and cars rolling past the business.

The next afternoon, a very similar scene played out in the parking lots near the infamous Boardy Barn, also in Hampton Bays. The crowds that flock to the Montauk Highway bar, which is only open from 4 until 8 p.m. on Sundays in the summer, are notoriously rowdy and have drawn complaints from local residents and the owners of numerous other businesses in the shopping mall adjacent to the Boardy Barn, requiring the police presence.

The onset of summer and the now weekly demands of additional police protection at these two businesses has rekindled talk of whether or not the town should be looking to recoup some of the costs of essentially stationing several police officers outside the two clubs during their busiest hours on summer weekends.

At Neptune, the police presence is often elevated from early afternoon until the wee hours of the night. In fact, over Memorial Day weekend, 21 patrons of the oceanfront club were arrested on assorted drug charges, according to the authorities.

Southampton Town Police Chief James Overton said he has not calculated the costs of extra police officers, or the constraints put on other patrol areas when officers must be dedicated to monitoring the clubs. He said the dedication of extra officers to these areas has been going on for many years, even more so in the past near Neptune, where a second club, Summers, used to operate. The town bought the Summers property in 2004 and converted it to public use.

As a councilwoman, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst had pitched the idea of charging club owners for the additional police presence needed at those locations, and said recently that she would like to see the conversation started again, particularly in light of the drastic budget cuts that the town has implemented in the past year.

“It got put on the back-burner, much to my consternation and dismay,” Ms. Throne-Holst said. “I would like to see it move forward before summer, but I don’t know if that’s realistic.”

The supervisor said that any schedule for charging the clubs for the drain on resources would first have to get a thorough legal vetting by Town Attorney Michael Sordi, and could likely be done only with the cooperation of the owners of the clubs. Mr. Sordi said it is not a topic he has looked into as yet, since taking over the town’s legal office in April.

Phone messages left at Neptune Beach Club and the Boardy Barn this week were not returned.

Other Town Board members acknowledged that the costs incurred by taxpayers because of the two clubs is a concern and said that some form of charging back the owners of those businesses may be called for at some point.

“To the extent that we need to staff those areas with additional officers, which costs the taxpayers money, I think it’s a fair conversation,” Town Councilman Chris Nuzzi said. “We’ve had some discussion with the club owners, and they’ve been open to the idea, and they do understand that some extra police protection is required for traffic and safety issues because of their business. But it has to be a fair thing—based on the extra effort that they may require.”

Mr. Nuzzi and Councilman Jim Malone, the latter in his first summer on the board, echoed each other’s concerns about the costs, but also that the town should be sensitive of the financial benefits that the popularity of Neptune and the Boardy Barn bring to the town as well. “We have to remember that some of the revenue that is generated by these establishments, as difficult as they can be, is still part of our local economy here,” Mr. Nuzzi said.

Mr. Malone added that while the national and local economies are still on thin ice as they climb out of the throes of recession, the town should be careful not to impose additional burdens on small businesses, even the clubs.

“It’s not a small amount of money, the costs to have cops at the Boardy Barn, Neptune and The Pink Elephant,” Mr. Malone said, adding the posh Southampton nightclub to the list. “But you can’t nickel-and-dime these people to death either. Maybe we could talk about developing some kind of transition to a cost-sharing effort.”

While the large crowds may be spending a lot of money in the clubs, they are not necessarily spreading the wealth around the local community, Councilwoman Nancy Graboski said. She noted that when former Supervisor Patrick Heaney’s administration took a hard stance on nightclubs with its amortization law—which gave the town the authority to close businesses cited for disrupting the quality of life of nearby residents if they did not correct the offensive behavior—a study of the town’s nightclubs showed that a large percentage of their patrons are young people from points west who travel to the clubs for the day or night and then return home, bringing little ancillary benefit to other local businesses.

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It was a good idea when Anna Throne-Holst first raised it, and it's a good idea now. Be fair, yes, but bring it on.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 3, 10 10:51 AM
2 members liked this comment
Just what the town needs to do - strike another blow against the local economy.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jun 4, 10 1:14 AM
I'm not sure how big a part of the "local economy" these establishments are any more. As Nancy Graboski notes in the above piece, a study conducted back in the Heaney years suggested that they brought "little ancillary benefit to other local businesses," because the kids just come to the clubs from up island and then go straight back home. If anything, the benefit should be even less now, because our economy is inexorably shifting away from this youth-entertainment/rental home basis, and more ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 4, 10 10:15 AM
Do you think that the "study" done in the Heaney years might have come to the conclusion desired by those paying for it?

Do you think all those vacant stores, shuttered motels, and out of business restaurants in Hampton Bays and East Quogue just might be related to the town buying up the beach clubs to appease a handful of fogies? Oh yeah, the town was going to "give that space back to the community" - how's that working out so far?
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jun 5, 10 2:37 AM
No, VOS, I don't think the "'study' done in the Heaney years might have come to the conclusion desired by those paying for it" as you suggest, but then I'm not in the business of launching negative insinuations unsupported by any facts, which is what your question is.

On the other hand, I suspect you're right that those various closed seasonal businesses in the Bays and EQ are related to a contraction in the beach clubs, but the "fogies" you say were appeased by this are in fact people ...more
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 7, 10 12:29 PM
Here's some specifics: Conscience Point was turned into a town marina which competes with private businesses, the promised restaurant has never materialized. Summers was renovated and is rarely in use even though the adjoining Tiana pavilion is a decaying ruin. Sandbar Beach Club, Hampton Beach Club (Hot Dog), Drift Inn have all been leveled and sit vacant.

My premise is that continuing all those in the private sector would have saved the town a LOT of money and would be revenue producing, ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jun 8, 10 12:15 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 8, 10 10:02 AM
No thanks on the CPI. You and I disagree on whether the dance club kids or the homeowners contribute more to the local economy, so we can't come together on any conclusions. I have to say, though, you seem to be double-binding the Town on Conscience Point. First you complain about an unkept promise to give the purchased spaces back to the community, and then, when it is given back, you complain that the puiblic marina there competes with private businesses. Make up your mind.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 8, 10 5:33 PM
No. Perhaps I haven't made myself clear, my gripe is the fraudulent reasons the town has given for taking any of these properties with CPF money. They have been pandering to the fogies by closing these places through those purchases.

We all end up paying the price and the places are forever off the tax rolls and fewer and fewer places exist for their clientele to spend their money. Fewer motels, fewer restaurants, fewer shops, fewer boat dealers, fewer ice cream shops, fewer gas stations, ...more
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jun 8, 10 11:38 PM
Conscience Point in is a very poor choice to lump in with the other clubs you are using as example. The business was opened, closed, renovated, re-opened and closed again more times in the decade leading to its demise than anyone can count. The ONLY popularity it ever received was for Lizzie Grubman's infamous tempter tantrum. I live about a half mile from the place, which, by the way, is situated in a VERY quiet residential area. I had club-goers parking all over my front lawn to walk there because ...more
By LocalMom (36), Southampton on Jun 9, 10 9:07 AM
1 member liked this comment
OK, VOS, understand your point. Don't agree, for reasons already stated, but understand. Thanks.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 9, 10 10:57 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Turkey Bridge (1979), Quiogue on Jun 9, 10 10:58 AM
"but also that the town should be sensitive of the financial benefits that the popularity of Neptune and the Boardy Barn bring to the town as well. “We have to remember that some of the revenue that is generated by these establishments, as difficult as they can be, is still part of our local economy here,” Mr. Nuzzi said." Where is your analysis of the "revenue" generated by these clubs? It is very easy to do the analysis to show the impact on Town spending from dealing with these drunken idiots. ...more
By sirpoochala (78), Hampton Bays on Jun 4, 10 12:52 PM
I maybe nieve but....maybe the police have a better idea on how to handle crowd controll....and the police decide if they need to be at the club or not.. right? . The time is a realatively short season...I think the police should have to decide if it is too much waste for them to be there or not. (Of course the drug dealers would rather them...Not.)
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Jun 4, 10 1:14 PM
"nieve" = snow in Spanish

The police are there because they NEED to be there, so the clubs should pay
By peoplefirst (787), Southampton on Jun 9, 10 2:56 PM
Should the HBFD pay for the cops at the carnival? Should the civic assc pay for the cops for the concert at the beach? should the AOH pay for the cops at the parade? Should the movie theater pay for the crew unit patrolling on bikes?
By fetupwithSHT (16), Hampton Bays on Oct 4, 10 5:49 PM
It is also amazing that no one mentions that the police presence also generates revenues for the town thought ticketing and arrests. I do feel that these clubs are a part of our economy, and although everyone only sees the vomiting and urinating, go and ask Uncle Joe's Pizza on Sunday if the Boardy Barn should close, or some of the other food establishments, or clothing establishments, or limousine companies, or whoever else may serve many of these kids. I am in retail in SH and my business has ...more
By Puros (30), Hampton Bays on Jun 5, 10 12:36 AM
charging fees for police services? this is a bag of sh*t that shouln't be opened. who decides which businesses should pay? and how much and when? the police dept is a town provided service to prevent and detect crime and maintain public safety- whether it is crowd control at Neptunes, a fight in a Flanders deli, or a traffic accident in sagg. whats next- a bill from the town to everyone who requests police assistance?
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Jun 6, 10 9:47 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 8, 10 6:22 AM
Places like Neptune Beach do nothing for the community as both the majority of the employees and so called "patrons" are from up the Island..Perhaps a weekend surcharge of perhaps $50k or more would solve the problem. It would no longer be profitable for these marginally legal businesses to operate out here.
By pmofo (37), East Quogue on Jun 8, 10 5:30 PM
What was inappropriate with my comment? The owners of the clubs should pay for the police who are needed to keep the animals from up the Island in line.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 9, 10 6:21 AM
I have sat here and read these comments and am greatly disturbed. In this economy I am shocked to see fellow residents supporting assessing high fees on local businesses in the hopes that they shut down. The East End economy is dependent on people coming here to spend money. When a business shuts down then it is no longer generating revenue for the local economy and it is no longer a draw for people with money looking for a place to spend it. The Town needs to be supporting the flow of money ...more
By Damon.Hagan (34), Southampton on Jun 9, 10 11:21 AM
1 member liked this comment
I support businesses that bring civilized, well-behaved, positive crowds to our Town. If these clubs need extra police security they should pay for it, not me. Anyone concerned about the locals should be concerned with how our tax dollars are being spent. The Neptune Club may have spurred the latest discussion, but it is certainly not the first time something like this has happened.

As for what you call an "excessive" police presence that scares people off - you have it completely backwards ...more
By lablover (104), Southampton on Jun 9, 10 1:52 PM
"these offenders were doing these illicit activities by themselves outside of the range of the Club’s Personnel and Security."
Yes Damon, but these people would not have been in that parking lot (or in this town, for that matter) had the club not been there, drawing them from up island. That is exactly the point.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Jun 14, 10 6:28 AM
ok, fine! charge local businesses for the cops, as soon as you charge 7-11 for all the day laborers, main st. stores for the yuppie shoppers, and the police for crime!
By ratboy (17), sousd-hampton on Jun 10, 10 9:18 PM
What I find amazing about some of these comments, are from people who turn to these establishments when they need political fundraisers. These establishments are used throughout the year for political fundraisers, help this person fundraiser, school fundraisers but yet they get bashed as quickly! People commenting say these clubs don't bring any extra economy into this town, well my friends you are very wrong. Most of the people that go to these clubs have rental homes out here, they shop in ...more
By Terbear (77), Southampton on Jun 11, 10 11:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
I can easily understand both sides of this arguement. It is understandable to be upset that the town is making it more difficult for these businessess to flourish. But, it is also reasonable to think that 20 something arrests a weekend at the same establishment is detrimental to the communnity. If the police surveyed a deli or a barbershop for a weekend and walked away with 20-plus seperate arrests, the business would be ran out of town by all of us. This is the point in time where we, as a ...more
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Jun 14, 10 6:22 AM
Why not allow the clubs to hire police officers like in other states, most club owners would love to be able to do this
By fetupwithSHT (16), Hampton Bays on Oct 4, 10 5:52 PM