It’s a rare occurrence when all of the members of CB3’s SLA committee are in agreement. But it happened last night, during the debate over “Grand Park,” the elaborate, glass-enclosed Italian restaurant Jesse Hartman wants to open on Grand Street. The committee approved a full liquor license in June, but because lease negotiations with the Seward Park Co-op (Hartman’s prospective landlord), have dragged on, he was forced to return to CB3 for an extension. It didn’t take long for the committee to conclude, as board member David McWater put it, “this is a co-op battle and not our issue.”
Several residents, who had not been aware of last summer’s debate over “Grand Park,” came to the meeting to speak out. Among them, Ernest Marshall, who distributed letters to all 1700+ Seward Park apartments last week, critical of the proposed restaurant. “With children, elders and working parents, students who attend school all within a hundred feet of this proposed bar,” he asked last night, “why do we need another
bar in the neighborhood?”
Stuart Goldstein, another resident added: “My windows face the proposed site for this restaurant… They are adding a humongous addition in the backyard behind (the restaurant)… We’ve never had something like this before, and a family restaurant, in my opinion, is not open until 4am serving full liquor bar. That is not a family restaurant. That is my definition of a bar, and we all know what comes along with a bar… We don’t want the character of the neighborhood to change, by having the additional noise and the additional traffic in the neighborhood.”
But an early supporter of Grand Park, Linda Jones, said: “If you come home late at night from the subway that street is very dark and menacing, and I have felt ever since I moved there that having some establishments that were open late at night, that would bring a little life to the street would make me feel a heck of a lot safer.”
The restaurant’s opponents alleged that Hartman had not posted a notice on Grand Street informing residents about the application, as the community board requires. They continued to press this point after Hartman produced photos of the notice on the strorefront.
The committee ended the debate, and voted unanimously to give Hartman an extension. They agreed that, in this case, it didn’t make much difference how many supporters or opponents voiced their opinions. The co-op board, they said, should decide what’s best for its own community. CB3 member Pearl Chin summed it up: “We’re getting sucked into your politics.”