“When a bar manager is able to traffic and sell these types and quantities of narcotics from within an establishment it is incredibly alarming, and it is evidence of the serious threat that this establishment poses to the health, safety, and welfare of its patrons and the community”
– Christopher R. Riano, Counsel to SLA, December 2018
Well that only took seven years.
Finally spurred to action by a massive drug bust, the New York State Liquor Authority held a hearing in December of 2018 and issued a stunning rebuke to La Marina’s wild ways. You can watch the video here (jump to the 23 min mark). Bluntly rejecting the Pinnochio-esque claims of the concession operator, the authority panel decided to close the facility immediately with an emergency temporary suspension of their liquor license.
It will be determined in early 2019 whether or not this suspension becomes permanent. But in the meantime, the Community Board wasted no time in passing their own judgment before the year ended, issuing a resolution calling on the Parks Dept to rip up the concession contract and start over with a new operator. (Evidently they had tired of being lied to after previously supporting La Marina over resident concerns in 2012, 2014 and 2016).
Alas, where are La Marina’s powerful friends who protected their operations lo these many years? Not a word about the summer health violations, fall police bust or winter license suspension was said by any of Inwood’s elected officials, which seemed a little odd given the effusive political cover they provided the concession in the past. Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, for example, held and attended many events at La Marina over the years. His fundraiser/birthday party was hosted there as recently as August 2017. He could always be counted on to take the concession’s side over the concerns of residents, and yet has been oddly silent this year. Might running for Public Advocate have something to do with ignoring photos like this one, or this one?
Perhaps realizing their luck had run out after the prominent de Blasio donor corruption trials stripped them of any remaining allies, La Marina decided to go on the offensive. They launched their own lawsuit against New York City in November 2018, after the police drug bust but before the SLA suspended their liquor license. It was not publicized at the time, and the city certainly kept quiet about it (perhaps out of embarrassment, one has to wonder). The concession claimed that having to follow the rules of their license and no longer offer ticketed concerts or valet parking was an interruption in their business, and thus sued the city for damages of two million dollars.
So if you’ve been reading the articles and looking at the photos on this website over past summers, you will recognize the three-step process as thus:
1) Regularly violate concession license, city regulations and state and federal statutes in order to operate improper activities such as valet parking on public streets and late night ticketed concerts on public parkland.
2) Reap enormous profits for seven summers from above said activities while filing oddly inconclusive revenue reports.
3) Once rules and license are finally enforced normally, claim lost income from profitable, non-reported improper activities and sue city for …not enforcing the rules in the first place?
The arguments contained in the court documents make very little sense if you know how the concession really operated — the valet parking had “little or no adverse effect on the local community”, ha ha — but given their repeated lies and years of mismanagement, don’t count on Parks’ lawyers successfully defending your hard-earned tax dollars.
And by the way, wouldn’t suing the City of New York when you are in the midst of various raids and regulatory actions be something of a no-no? And why has the license not been terminated outright by now anyways? How is the concession agreement even still active? It’s not like Parks doesn’t have the right to terminate for any number of reasons:
At least 2019 will be interesting. Will Dyckman Marina be restored to its proper uses, finally? Happy New Year!
UPDATE – turns out that La Marina filed for bankruptcy in December also. That’s right, one of the most profitable concessions in the entire city somehow managed to run out of money and now only has $1,000 in the bank while owing $600,000 to creditors. Note that this also put them into 180 day protection, which may stop Parks from terminating the concession.