“La Marina will not be issued special events permits for the remaining Sundays in September.”
– Northern Manhattan Parks Administrator Jennifer Hoppa, discussing revoking Sunday concerts in 2012.
For three years Parks officials have been informed by area residents about the problems with the late-night concerts at the concession, especially on Sundays. For three years Parks officials have claimed that there were no problems, that the music ended at 10 pm, etc. At best there were weak promises made. From one email exchange of September 17, 2012 with Jennifer Hoppa, Parks Dept. administrator for Northern Manhattan:
In response to the traffic concerns community members have raised with us, we have reached out to La Marina and advised them that they need to encourage their patrons to take public transportation. They committed to incorporating public transportation information into their website and into any future restaurant promotional materials. In addition, they have requested that the Department of Transportation install No Honking signs up along the nearby streets. La Marina will not be issued special events permits for the remaining Sundays in September.
Nothing changed following this email, or the others like it. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 there were concerts every single week, they attracted thousands of people, and they lasted until 1 am. And so for the education of Parks officials who seem unable to monitor their own concession, here is the breakdown of one August, 2014 Sunday as a prime example.
A concert with Don Miguelo (whose tour dates included other nightclubs owned by the concession operators) was planned for August 17th, 2014, and probably started with a Special Events permit filed with Parks weeks or even months earlier, much like this one. Not every event held in 2014 had a permit, so clearly Parks was not monitoring the permits and events very closely, but most were filed and duly approved and this one probably was also. Note that this concert was approximately the 33rd private special event since May 24th, an absurd number of special event closings/concerts for one site. (Only Central Park has more concerts, and that is at a dedicated facility, with mostly free concerts. Most city parks host only a few events per season.) Why Parks would have approved yet another concert, despite the fact that such an event was prohibited by the License Agreement, reduced access to the site, burdened the entire area with noise and traffic, and was the 33rd or so concert event since May 24th, is beyond understanding.
Tickets for the August 17th concert were available from promoters or from a ticket website company controlled by one of the Dyckman Concession operators. The listed price was $40 though the tickets are often sold for cash and the price sometimes varies. Tickets/cover charges are also usually available at the door for a different price. Since Parks is supposed to get 5% of all revenue at the site, how this is tracked is not clear.
The special events permits typically are issued for 10 am to 10 pm. Workers start setting up the site around midday, as seen in this photo taken at 3:22 pm on August 17th. It is unknown how many tickets would have been sold but the Special Permits usually stated 800 to 1,000, the legal capacity of the Beach area is 1,500 according to its Public Assembly documents and some similar concerts at the site claim up to 3,000 in attendance.
As concert goers arrived, they would have had their bags searched and noted the “WARNING -VIDEO CAMERAS ARE IN USE” signs installed after the July 13th shooting. Some would have been given trouble by the bouncers, or the VIP treatment, or in this person’s case, both:
Meanwhile, traffic would have built to its usual Sunday gridlock as the the first acts took the enormous stage around 5 pm, followed by main act Don Miguelo. The image to the left is a Google traffic snapshot of traffic at 10:10 pm on August 17th, a summer Sunday night which in most residential parts of New York would have been one of the quietest and lightest traffic times. Not so in Inwood thanks to this concert.
Here is a photo of the large crowd taken from the stage that night. How many of these concertgoers arrived by car? As the concerts held at the concession draw from a wide audience (in this case featuring a popular performer on his first tour of the United States), and as valet parking is encouraged, very likely hundreds of cars were driven to this dead-end street in a residential area for the occasion.
There is no question that the music started during the special events permit time, probably around 5 pm. The question is to when the music stopped. The Special Events Permit, the city noise code and the License Agreement all would have required that all amplified music end at 10 pm. Parks has always insisted that this has been the case and that, year after year, the concession operators would be reminded of its necessity. The music certainly did not stop at 10 pm on August 17th, just like it didn’t stop at 10 pm on every Sunday before it.
The large crowd took a number of videos and posted them to social media. While there is no guarantee that any one video was posted moments after it was actually taken (it could have been posted hours or days later, after all), the posting of multiple videos showing the same scene being uploaded at the same time seem to be a reliable indication of the time the video was shot. Here are two videos from approximately 10:58 pm and 10:59 pm, an hour after the music should have stopped:
Don Miguelo kept going. The main acts usually wrap up around 11 pm but since no one follows the noise laws in the first place, why not play for the crowd a little longer if the concert is going well? These videos are from around 11:29 pm and 11:30 pm when he began wrapping up and are again of the same song.
After 11:30 pm, the DJs came on for their sets. DJ Camilo usually plays the concession on Sundays following the live act and often documents when he arrives backstage at the venue. On August 17th he seems to have been playing around 11:48 pm, based on the photo to the right.
The DJ’s then continued until the closing time at 1 am, sending thousands of patrons out to continue the party on Dyckman Street and ending another raucous Sunday at the concession.
Restoring the concession to its authorized uses and stopping the illegal late-night concerts will end this disruptive routine, reduce crowd pressure on Dyckman Street, and restore sanity to the neighborhood on the first weeknight of the work week.