Restore Dyckman Marina


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Liar Liar Parks on Fire

“We do not consider events that include music as part of the overall experience, and are not promoted as only a musical performance, to be prohibited..”

 David Cerron, NYC Parks Dept, July 3 2017

 

Halfway through the summer of 2017, it is time to check in on the many lies of the New York City Parks Dept under Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Mitchell Silver.

Every year Parks promises to “continue to address issues” with the concession over resident concerns about how public parkland got turned into an unaudited private nightclub.  So how are we doing so far this season?

[Sigh.]  Residents are working year-round to try and get Parks to enforce the license agreement as it is written.  These efforts usually start in reasonable questions being asked of Parks, and end in ridiculous lies and misdirections because Parks cannot possibly explain how any of what La Marina does outside of being a restaurant or bar is legal.  It is not, and this how Parks hopes to confuse you, the politicians, and the courts into letting the concession continue without interference for another ten years.

everyday people july dj1

Djs on stage, June 17, 2017

Let’s start with the unilateral extension of hours to 1 am, which you recall was extended from 11 pm.  The extension of hours is legal, but the extension of music to 1 am never has been.  Parks has tried many times to claim that La Marina’s events all end at 10 pm, and that any music after that is not from the main stage and is on some sort of sound limiter.  They have to say this because noise outdoors in New York is illegal after 10 pm.  But in the case of La Marina it’s pure fantasy.  The facility closes at 1 am, and the concert acts always go long past 10 pm till close to closing.  Even La Marina’s own website shows this when they describe an event that starts at 3 pm and features “more than 15 artists, 10+ hours of music and dancing, and special performances and surprises”  (Note that dancing is also not legal at La Marina — more on that in a moment).  And yet, when queried about the constant late-night noise, Parks will say as they did in an email of July 21, 2017 (all quotes on this page are from the Chief of Revenue, Concessions, and Controls Oversight for Parks, David Cerron).

 

:

Regarding the event’s duration, we spoke to the operators of La Marina and they confirmed that the July 4th event ended at 9:30pm. The facility closes no later than 1am.

Yeah, they checked on this by calling the operators.  Hey fox, how many eggs did you steal from that henhouse you were guarding?  Oh, none?  Ok then.

And why again are there concerts happening on the site in the first place?  Parks has been asked many times in writing to clarify how this can be when the license agreement explicitly states “concerts are strictly prohibited (see 10.18).”  This is the lie put forth by Parks in an email of July 3, 2017:

jul15 crowd

Not a concert, just a lot of people lined up in front of a stage for no defined reason. (7/15/17)

With regard to “concerts” at the facility, as stated in prior correspondence dated August 18, 2015, it is true that the concession agreement does not define concerts. There is no indication in the agreement that live or recorded music is not permitted at the facility. The agreement contemplates amplified sound at the concession with Parks’ approval.

This first part of this answer tries to deflect by confusing any amplified music with concerts.  Amplified music is ok with some conditions, as you would expect for any RESTAURANT/BAR license.  Of course it is.  The issue is the 1,500 person CONCERTS that occur in the “La Marina Beach” area and feature a huge stage, ticketed entry, specific showtimes and featured performers.

concert stage jul2

Not a concert.  Got that?  (7/2/17

We do not consider events that include music as part of the overall experience, and are not promoted as only a musical performance, to be prohibited. Consequently, we have approved La Marina’s use of regulated live amplified music as part of its overall concession activity, which includes its restaurant and lounge operation, marina services, and catered events.

Oh, so those are not concerts after all?  They are just “events that include music”?  Any six-year old would be familiar with this dictionary definition of concerts:

CONCERT /ˈkɒnsət/: A musical performance given in public, typically by several performers or of several compositions.

It is absurd of Parks to try and claim that “concerts” is not a defined term.  After all, neither is the word “day”, a word which is used many times.   Maybe they mean a Martian Day, or a Neptune Day, or a Klingon Day!   Come on Parks, no judge is going to buy this.  You had an entire series of events last year that was called a SUMMER CONCERT SERIES for crying out loud.  If a guy prances around on a stage while thousands of paying customers watch, newsflash: IT’S A CONCERT.

Deep down, Parks knows this.  They know they are in trouble here and cannot get out of it.  Go back to the language of the RFP from 2007:

heatwave-july1-lineup-1

This is not a concert, just an event that includes music.  A lot of music.

Proposers should note that the café will not be permitted to have any outdoor, amplified music without prior written approval from Parks. All amplified music must be at sound level reasonably acceptable to the Commissioner. The café and restaurant (if proposed) will not be permitted to operate past 11:00 p.m. on Sunday through Wednesday and 12:30 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Concerts will be strictly prohibited at the site. If the proposer plans to build an enclosed, year-round restaurant, then amplified music may be played within the structure. All amplified music at the café or restaurant (if proposed) must cease at 10:00 p.m. and must be at a sound level reasonably acceptable to the Commissioner. Music and all other noise emanating from the café and restaurant (if proposed) shall comply with the rules for noise control in Title 24, Chapter 2 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York.

aug19 event details how is this not a concert

A ticket description for an event that has 17 musical acts.  Not a concert!

So the intent was pretty clear.  No concerts.  So this year, Parks has been trying to strengthen the “they’re not concerts, they’re events that include music” excuse by requiring that the weekend concerts describe themselves as, wait for it, “birthday parties”.  (This seems similar to the tactic tried some years ago of calling the concerts “benefits”.)  So for these “birthday parties”, you just show up like any other birthday party, only you have to get a ticket, you don’t bring a gift, there is hours of music but no singing of ‘Happy Birthday’ or cake, and there will be about 1,500 other guests.  So pretty much the same as any other birthday party ever you’ve been to, right?

And if they are not birthday parties, the concerts are called “beach parties”.  You know, like any party at the beach, minus the ocean and beach chairs, plus bouncers, tickets a stage and multiple music acts.  And they allow 15 of these a year, on the legal basis of absolutely nothing.  Parks should be ashamed.

may29 poster

Poster, May 29th 2017

Speaking of knowing no shame, another 2017 lie from Parks is that they are blameless over the content of some of these concerts/parties.   It has long been an issue that Parks allows event promotions that feature the objectification of women, a remarkable practice for a city-owned facility in the 21st century and one that is prohibited in the license agreement (10.16).  Right from Memorial Day weekend 2017, there were problems with concert posters that fixated on female bodies.  When questioned, Parks stated on July 3, 2017:

As you know, the advertisements you referenced were not approved by Parks. We spoke to La Marina and were informed that the advertisements were not approved by them either, but instead were issued by third-party event planners. We directed La Marina to instruct the event planners to immediately replace the advertisements with something more appropriate and to firmly remind event planners to have all advertisements approved in advance. After review, it appears these advertisements were subsequently replaced. We have also directed La Marina to strengthen their efforts when monitoring online promotional material for events that is not on the La Marina website.

bikini beachwear

Event “covered up” only after being pointed out to Parks.

And yet a month later, Parks pretended to be shocked!, shocked! again when a prominent event was booked called Bikini Palooza  which featured some of the most outrageous marketing images yet.  After the event was brought to Parks’ attention, was it cancelled?  Of course not.  It was simply renamed “Beach Wear Affair” and allowed to continue.

Again, Parks blamed others — a website redesign (?) — and said on July 21, 2017 that they would resolve the issue not by stopping the illegal concerts, but by asking La Marina to hire a staffer to surf Instagram!

With regard to advertisements, approved promotional material for beach events can be found on La Marina’s website and/or Facebook page. Their website was not functioning for most of June due to a site redesign, which may have contributed to the circulation of unapproved advertisements. With that said, we agree that the event in question was not promoted appropriately by the event planner – we have expressed this sentiment to the concessionaire, and they have now assigned a staff person to search event-related online posts and ensure they are in keeping with the approved event

bikini palooza 22

This sort of marketing has nothing at all to do with Parks allowing public land to serve as a giant nightclub. Right?

Good luck with that, since the #LaMarina hashtag is now considered so explicit that Instagram often filters it and hides search results.  But please, Parks, keep up with the good work!  Because it hasn’t stopped this poster from appearing on the La Marina website for July 30th.  (One wonders if any other municipal facility in history has ever developed quite the street rep as the Dyckman Marina…)

 

lookotherway

Nothing to see here people (just the taking of public space).

Finally, Parks is continuing in 2017 the Great Lie about parking.  See, parking is a tough topic to spin.  It’s rather technical in that the site has none, the license agreement doesn’t mention it, the site plan doesn’t allow any, and the Parks-owned parking lot nearby has no agreement of its own to operate as a valet lot.  All of the streets near La Marina are either regular residential parking or No Standing zones.  And yet, and yet, every weekend, the barricades go up and parking staff seize public streets as private valet parking.  It’s a little hard not to notice, with the dozens of cops assigned to look the other way while they direct traffic.  And so, Parks must wiggle and squirm to try and not make it apparent that everything concerning parking at La Marina is grossly illegal.  Per an email on July 21, 2017 responding to a resident complaint about valet parking closing off Dyckman near Staff Street:

La Marina does not have authorization to close off this area of Dyckman Street. We spoke to the operators regarding your concern and were informed that the decision to close Dyckman Street was made by staff of the 34 precinct. In this instance, valet parking employees were allowed to move to the front of the barricade depicted in your photo to facilitate access for patrons traveling to the facility, and parking in the concessionaire’s designated area closer to the facility.

close off dyckman st for valet

Valet parking staff cone off Dyckman Street from public access, July 2017.

Oh, so it’s the NYPD’s fault?  Little problem with this lie:  there is NO “concessionaire’s designated area” for parking.  None.  Not a single space.  So Parks here is essentially saying the NYPD allowed an illegal parking operation to take over a public street to support a use that is not approved or authorized at a city-owned facility.

Restore Dyckman Marina.


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Welcome Back, Klubber

“At the far west end of what the district refers to as the Dyckman corridor, is the unnervingly popular riverside restaurant-bar-hookah-dance venue La Marina.”

 Metro, Dec 7, 2016

only you

Welcome to 2017.  This will be the sixth season operating under the never-enforced and pretty-much-worthless concession agreement for the establishment at the Dyckman Marina basin.  The rent will still only be a measly 8% (far below the rents of 14% at Boat Basin Cafe or 12% at New Leaf Cafe) and as we’ve noted over and over, much of the money potentially owed to the city may never be seen because concert ticket income seems to not be reported.  But never mind all of those abstract numbers — a return to warm weather and the concession’s reopening means a return of illegal noisy concerts that bring unfair traffic and parking mayhem to Inwood’s 40,000 residents.

As usual, attempts have been made to correct the situation by asking Parks to abide by the agreements that were actually negotiated and signed back in 2009, rather than continue whatever fantasy they have been living in since 2012.  And last year saw a lot more scrutiny than usual, with federal corruption investigations surrounding Mayor de Blasio extending to La Marina’s majority partner.

2016 part1

Concert posters from the first half of the 2016 season.

But despite FBI rumors and calls for audits, as in past years Parks simply resorted to “alternative facts” to respond to critics.   In June 2016, a Parks spokesperson stated in an email to a neighborhood group that:

Similar to last season, La Marina is limiting the number of large Beach events, which are events on the beach that meet or exceed 1,000 attendees, to 15.

Keep in mind that there is no legal basis for even one of these “events” (which involve tickets and music and are called “concerts” by non-lying people).  Nonetheless, over the course of the summer Parks could not even manage to enforce their own invented and relaxed guideline.  In October 2016, long after the last mic had dropped, the spokesperson stated in a followup email:

La Marina is limiting their number of large beach events to 15 per year … for such an event to be included, it must meet or exceed 1,000 attendees.  Any events with less than 1,000 attendees are not counted in the 15 per year restriction.  Using that parameter, La Marina hosted 10 large beach events this season.

In reality, there were at least 40 heavily advertised, ticketed events in summer 2016, as seen in the posters on this page.

2016 part2

Concert posters from the second half of the 2016 season

At least 21 of those events, as documented here, hosted large crowds that filled the beach area to 2/3 or more (the beach alone has a legal capacity of 1,500 people):

1. May 21 Memorial Day Party
2. May 30 Brunch Bounce
3. June 12 Mega Music Series #3
4. June 18 Everyday People
5. June 19 Mega Music Series #4
6. June 25 Mai Tai NY
7. July 2 Chicken & Beer
8. July 3 Lovetrain Tour
9. July 4 Brunch n Beats
10. July 10 Mega Music Series #6
11. July 16 CRIBS
12. July 22 AfroCarnival
13. July 24 Mega Music Series #8
14. Aug. 6 Everyday People
15. Aug. 20 Summer Daze
16. Aug. 21 Rains/Powder Wars
17. Aug 26 Fiesta Empanada
18. Aug 27 Afro Caribbean
19. Sept 3 Everyday People #3
20. Sept 5 Brunch n Beats
21. Sept 10 Brunch Bounce

So how exactly does twenty-one equal ten?  How exactly do the images of all those concert posters  match up with “concerts are strictly prohibited” as stated in section 10.16 of the concession agreement?  How exactly was this creating “a significant improvement to the ambience of the park and surrounding area while providing a convenient service to the public” as required by the original concession RFP?  We’ll never know, as when Parks can’t give an answer that justifies their negligence, they provide no answer at all.

The only time in 2016 when Parks did their job properly in overseeing the concession was when they cancelled a boxing event that the operators had booked for the site.  Presumably they could not come up with a way to describe a live boxing match better suited for Madison Square Garden as being part of the approved use of “a full-service restaurant and a lounge”, so in this one rare instance it was dropped.

But one right does not make up for so many wrongs.  Will the same abuse of Inwood’s largest park as a late-night concert venue happen again in 2017?  What about the never-performed audit, or the missing EcoDock?  Will the city continue to look the other way as the alcohol industry uses a city park as a promotional vehicle?  Will the NYPD continue to pretend that Dyckman Street is not the city’s biggest illegal parking operation?  And exactly how many new explicit songs will come out this year referencing La Marina in their lyrics?

The big question for 2017 remains: will Dyckman Marina ever be restored to its intended and approved uses?


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The More Things Change…

“La Marina offers a unique experience that infuses a touch of South Beach in Manhattan, setting the perfect backdrop for private social events or corporate parties.”

 LaMarinaNYC.com, April 2016

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Summer is coming…

As La Marina prepares to open for its fifth season, there is cause for despair.

Many residents who lived closest to the Parks concession have now moved elsewhere; newer residents moving in are unaware that the problems at the site are things that should not be happening — to them, they are just the way they have always been.

Remaining residents, tired of successive politicians who fail to take action, have adapted their travel patterns and weekend activities to try and mitigate the damage.

In 2014, at the Community Board 12 liquor license renewal committee meeting, a huge crowd turned out, only to see the license renewed for another 2 years with stipulations (that were never met) and more lies fabricated (to justify actions that are not permitted by the concession agreement or city regulations).  And so on April 13, 2016 few residents appeared for the licensing committee meeting, knowing that the liquor license would be renewed regardless — which it indeed was, without a single stipulation.

LM Posters1

Will summer 2016 be just like summer 2015?

So what now?  Will the “private social events” (aka concerts, no, make that “experiences that include music“) be  limited to ending at 10 pm?  To not being on Sunday nights?  To occuring just a few times throughout the season?  No, of course not.  Will the community uses of the site, which now finally includes sailing, increase?  Nope, anything like a family movie night would conflict with the concerts.  (Although, for a place that takes in many millions each year, you would think La Marina could afford to donate the $25,000 needed for a floating classroom for the sailing school.)  How about that EcoDock promised in 2012?  Every year it is promised, every year it fails to appear.

A shooting in 2014 did not bring change.  Community meetings with Parks officials in 2015 did not bring change.  A corruption scandal involving uptown politicians in 2016 has not brought change (yet – stay tuned on this one).  There is simply no reason not to expect summer 2016 to be just like summer 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.  So what can you do about it?

Take note of the impact La Marina has on your quality of life when they host disruptive concerts, or are playing music past 10 pm, or when you cannot even exit the highway. Email restoredyckmanmarina@gmail.com with your photos and observations and they will be published here.  And contact your elected officials to let them know that not all of Inwood has rolled over or abandoned the neighborhood.

Restore Dyckman Marina to its original uses, to benefit everyone, as it should be.  In the meantime, Happy 2016.

tweet from the security company showing their training

Security staff training for La Marina’s 2016 season.  Because all Parks concessions need bouncers, right?

 

 


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Summer Lyin’ (2015 edition)

“We look forward to La Marina continuing to serve as a successful concession that is responsive to community concerns…”

Liz Sanchez, Analyst, Revenue Division, Parks & Recreation

All photos on this page are from Summer 2015

All photos on this page are from summer 2015

When fall arrives, one of the signs of the season for Inwood residents is the return of calm to Dyckman Street.  Another is the receipt of the annual form letter from the Parks Department explaining what a terrific job they did of managing their Dyckman Marina concession and how any and all community concerns about the operations of an illegal nightclub and concert venue are either unfounded or sure to be addressed any day now.

For example, here are excerpts from the 2012 version of “the letter”:

Thank you for your letter regarding NYC Park’s Concession, La Marina.  I apologize for the delayed response.

La Marina is permitted to have 500 seated people at their Parks licensed premises, 200 of which can be outside. La Marina is currently applying for a Place of Assembly permit from the Department of Small Business Services so that they can ensure they are safely accommodating their outdoor patrons.  NYC Parks, La Marina and the 34th Precinct have also been coordinating to ensure that public safety at the facility’s perimeter is maintained as well.

ritmo3Designated areas of the event space at La Marina offer a bottle fee, which Parks did not approve. We are working with La Marina for next summer’s season to ensure that the areas available to restaurant patrons remain the priority of the establishment.   We have received complaints regarding Sunday traffic congestion in the area.  As a result we have met with La Marina and they have urged more use of public transportation to their facility. In addition, we have received complaints about noise.  La Marina’s contract requires all amplified sound to terminate by 10 p.m. We have informed them of the complaints we have received and their need to comply.  We have also witnessed that many people driving in the area, perhaps on their way to La Marina, have the volume on their car stereos excessively high.  Other people set up “car parties” and put chairs on Dyckman Street and turn their car stereos on too loudly.  These areas are outside of La Marina’s Licensed Premises, and La Marina is only responsible for the behavior of patrons at the restaurant.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

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And then in 2013, another letter with some familiar themes:

Thank you for writing to us about La Marina.

We understand your ongoing concerns and indeed, we have been working with the operators of La Marina to address them. The first year of any new concession is always a challenge as the agency seeks to navigate a course that is flexible and supportive of a new  business, while being sensitive to people who have to accommodate new commercial activity in their neighborhood. 

The operators of La Marina have been advised that all outdoor amplified sound must end by 10:00pm, and they have agreed to comply with this restriction in the future. As such, several events that had been planned for the end of the summer were canceled. We hope that this will help curtail the community’s concerns about noise.  

Parks has also been coordinating with NYPD and the NYCDOT to see what street network or traffic controls can be put in place to alleviate area congestion

I apologize for the delay in responding; your message was misrouted through our correspondence system. Thank you for reporting your concerns and observations. We will continue to address issues as they arise at the licensed premises.

valet on staff st (1)In 2014, instead of waiting until after summer for the Parks Dept to make their annual excuses, the concession operators themselves  issued a preemptive letter to the Community Board before the season even started.  This included such deflections as:

All of these inspections and reviews by the various departments have determined that our business in fully compliant with applicable laws, rules and regulations: The 34th Precinct  conducted sound inspections throughout the area on one of our busiest days and found no violations or concerns relating to public safety; we received our second consecutive ‘A’ from the Department of Health; we do not exceed permitted occupancy levels; FDNY concluded that there were no unsafe conditions and that emergency vehicles had sufficient access to our site; the SLA is satisfied with our significant efforts to ensure that minors are not served alcohol.

A Parks Department audit conducted this winter has shown some areas where our internal procedures could be tightened up, but overall found that La Marina has properly fulfilled its obligations to the City. As a result of that audit, through ongoing meetings with Parks officials in the Compliance and Revenue Divisions, we are working together to develop new protocols to improve transparency. We are told that it is typical for new concessions to go through this type of tweaking – the process is never seamless.

cribs photo4La Marina has had an important impact on this neighborhood. Most of those who complain loudest about our business tend to ignore the drag racing, prostitution and drug dealing that plagued the area just a few years ago. The now absent dreary storefronts and dangerous stretches are not part of the discourse. We continue to work with the task force, the BID, DOS and DOT to improve the area further. By working with these groups, we are also eager to effect more positive change.

It’s not necessary to pick apart the above letters since they obviously resolved nothing — just click on the links.  But let’s take a look at this year’s form letter (supposedly authored by an analyst at the Parks Dept), which may be the best yet in terms of its truthiness.  Note – there are so many lies, the letter has to be addressed almost one sentence at a time.  For clarity, the 2015 letter text is underlined.

Thank you for your letter regarding La Marina. I apologize for the delay in response.  Since you sent this inquiry, NYC Parks has worked closely with La Marina to clarify requirements and adjust operations in order to enhance compliance with the concession agreement and to address any inadvertent impacts of the concession’s considerable popularity.

bb14This is a nice foreshadowing that the rest of this letter will be pure bull.  I wonder if “worked closely with La Marina to clarify requirements” has something to do with gross violations of their licensing agreement.  Since virtually nothing has changed in terms of their operations since 2012, does “enhance compliance with the concession agreement” mean “allow everything we initially said was not approved, like bottle service and concerts”?  Gee, I wonder if creating gridlock for half of Inwood was an “inadvertent impact”?  It’s a little hard to claim that the negative results of hosting 3,000 people and hundreds of cars at a site that is not capable of supporting such crowds is some kind of shocking surprise.

Finally, the crutch of “but they’re soooo popular” is wheeled out right in the first paragraph.  This is the excuse that Parks leans on time and again to paint the concession as a victim of their its success.  No.  The issue is not that the 500 seat restaurant is popular.  A facility of that size was forecast from the beginning and, on its own is manageable.  We know this because there are no quality of life problems on nights when the concert venue and nightclub are not operating.  The “popularity” is in reality the large crowds of thousands that attend the concerts and late-night club portions of the site, a use that was never approved by any agency.  This is made worse by the massive valet that operates without any legal agreement whatsoever.  The problem is not that these uses are popular, it is that they exist where they should not.
sample of 2015 posters

This season, La Marina has made important strides to better serve the needs of its community and implemented reasonable adjustments to its summer 2015 programming in accordance with community concerns.

Really?  Pray tell, what were those programming adjustments? Other than fewer headline performers (2Chainz, Fabolous, etc.) there was virtually no change to the summer programming.  See for yourself — Can you tell the difference between the sample poster collection on the right, from 2015, and this image of posters from the previous summer?  I didn’t think so.

As for “community concerns”, I guess the community must have been concerned with not enough events where beer companies took over parkland for promotional events, because there were two of those this year.

Per Parks’ direction, La Marina agreed to limit the number of large events to 15.

IMG_20150715_103045What a nice bit of misdirection.  In reality, Parks raised the limit of concerts from zero to 15  (since the contract says “Concerts are strictly prohibited”).  So how did Parks weasel out of this ban? It was hinted at in May, and then confirmed in a separate letter to residents in August, where Parks Chief Accountant David Cerron wrote the words “We do not consider events that include music as part of the overall experience, and are not promoted as only a musical performance, to be prohibited.”  That has to be one of the most farcical statements ever penned by a public official.

Events that met or exceeded 1,000 attendees were counted as part of the 15 large events.

Well that was nice of Parks to arbitrarily pick a nice round number like 1,000.  Where did that come from?  How did they decide that 999 people (again, at a site that was supposed to be 500 seats) would not have an impact but 1,000 would and therefore need some limit?  As it turns out, there is a process for evaluating when a proposed use will have a negative impact.  It’s called an Environmental Impact Statement or EIS.  And did La Marina have an EIS when it was first proposed?  Let’s go back to the transcript of the September, 2008 Franchise and Concession Review Committee hearing, and recall what the Parks concession director told the committee when they asked about doing an EIS:

sep5 scene4“This is an existing use, previously a [marina] cafe, for at least, I believe, 15 years. I don’t know the exact number; at least the last 10 years. So this is not a new use of this space. Therefore, we didn’t do any [environmental assessment], because typically it is existing use and we know what the conditions that were there before.  We don’t think there is going to be any — the concessionaire has offered to work with local garages to make sure that there is valet  parking; to encourage people to come by public  transportation. And we don’t think there’s going  to be a particular traffic impact based on the concession.”

So after deflecting any need for an EIS, Parks can just turn around and say under 1,000 is ok all the time, and more than that is even ok fifteen times a year?  Inequitable treatment of Inwood, to say the least.

For the summer 2015 season, eight events met or exceeded the 1,000 person threshold.

tickets july26Liar, liar, pants on fire.  There were over fifty heavily promoted musical events during the summer of 2015.  Many of those attracted huge crowds that clearly filled the beach area to capacity.  How did Parks get its count?  Does the bouncer write up a report for Parks?  Are they getting ticket sales reports from their concession?  In other words, prove it, Parks, because the pictures don’t lie.  All we do know is that Parks no longer requires special events permits for any kind of event, even the “large” ones, so there is no official record of any kind.

Additionally, Parks worked with La Marina to ensure that Community Board 12 and the NYPD 34th Precinct were made aware of potentially large upcoming events.

Hmmmn.  How exactly did you tell the Community Board (which by the way is based in Washington Heights 35 blocks from La Marina) about these summer events when the Community Board is shut down for July and August?  The police though surely were aware of the events given the traffic and crowd control they were providing each and every summer weekend, at taxpayer cost.

In regards to noise/sound, in accordance with the NYC Noise Code, La Marina transitions to an in-house system at 10:00pm that was specifically designed in consultation with a sound engineer.

bb4No, it doesn’t.  There are many examples of videos showing main acts continuing well past 10 pm on the main stage using the main speakers.  Here is one from 11:15 pm on Aug 22.

This sound system is much quieter and part of their internal audio system which contains limiters, compressors and/or other equipment for systematically containing the volume of audio at the Licensed Premises and ensuring that neighbors are not impacted by amplified sound.

And here we find some technobabble that conveniently obscures the fact that the written contract forbids any amplified music of any kind after 10 pm.   It does not allow for limited, compressed or otherwise contained audio after 10 pm.  It bans it, for the express reason that besides the fact that the New York City Noise Code effectively prohibits outdoor music after 10 pm, any music past that hour enables a nightclub use that was never approved and keeps large crowds on a site until a late hour when their exit becomes extremely disruptive.  (This also relates to how Parks unilaterally extended the hours past those approved in the contract)

20245761884_c581ef92eb_oThroughout the season, La Marina continually worked with NYC Parks and the 34th Precinct to address parking concerns and pedestrian flow.

Oh, the jokes are really flying now.  Parking concerns?  As in, the valet parking lot is totally, completely, absolutely illegal but let’s let them have it, never mind whatever the law says?  Ha ha ha.  As to addressing pedestrians, Parks must be referring to the fact that the recently built bike path next to La Marina is now used as a ticket queue, VIP access and backstage door during summer afternoons and evenings due to the construction this year of three gates along the path.  Gates that were never on the approved site plan and act to seize yet more public space for La Marina’s benefit?  Did the bag checks and ID scans to enter a public park also help with “pedestrian flow”?

20150823_103206La Marina has continually encouraged visitors to take mass transit to the venue, ride bikes to the site, and has partnered with area garages to minimize parking impact on the community. Furthermore, Parks met on-site with the 34th Precinct and the La Marina operators to discuss safety procedures for the valet parking operation.

Yes, I’m sure the instagrams of entertainers arriving by car and yacht scream “mass transit”.  Or is that referring to the tiny fine print that was added to the bottom of the La Marina website about taking the A train?  Bottom line, if you are running Manhattan’s largest valet parking operation (cash-based, it might be pointed out) you are attracting car traffic, not deterring it.  The fact that the entire thing is grossly illegal rather overrides any “discussions” about safety procedures.

In order to expand waterfront access to the community, La Marina has established a public sailing program, which provides both free sailing instruction for children and fee based sailing programs for adults.

Ah yes, the ballyhooed sailing program.  The same program that was long promised but never appeared in 2012, 2013, 2014, or even 2015 until the last weekend of August.  The one that charges $95 per person for a sailing outing.  The one that held a single Community Day in mid-October that filled its free sessions within hours, so great was the demand.  That sailing program.  While an excellent use and entirely consistent with a proper Parks concession use, its belated arrival does not make up for the many sins committed and promises broken over the past four years.

photo-from-may24During the season, La Marina’s beach area was open to the public most Saturdays from around 12:00pm to 3:30pm.

Giggle.  “Most”.  And why was that “most” and not “all”?   Could it be that anytime there was money to be made by holding a concert the free beach access was cancelled?  And about those hours, it’s curious that Parks does not point out that the hours were originally 2 pm until sunset, but those times were found to conflict too much with the business of closing public land for private parties and so were moved forward.  During the few hours a week that this large portion of the site (originally approved as an open-air and ungated café area) was open to the public, La Marina prohibited users from bringing food or drink (which had to be purchased) but generously pointed out that virgin cocktails would be available for the “little ones”.  How thoughtful of Parks to make sure the kids developed drinking habits early in life.

In addition, La Marina provided a reoccurring free beach outdoor fitness program and hosted kayak events.

20247392583_86c3e0c864_kYes they did.  A fitness program that used extremely high volume music, because why not?  If it’s ok to blast music at 1 am, why not 9 am on a Sunday too?  As for the “kayak events”, other than letting the community-friendly Inwood Canoe Club use their ramp to build their new kayak dock it’s not clear what kayak events occurred.  Unless they are confusing kayaks with floatplanes, which did hold a demonstration event for an entire week at La Marina — although being a floatplane showroom was not exactly part of the federal boating grant that paid for the docks.

I hope this information is helpful.

Not unless “helpful” means “insulting”.

We look forward to La Marina continuing to serve as a successful concession that is responsive to community concerns.

Look Parks, it’s been four years already.  You can spare us next year’s letter.  La Marina would be a successful concession responsive to community concerns if it operated solely as a restaurant and marina, as it was supposed to.  Allowing continued operation of the Jones Beach-like concert venue and late-night nightclub is wrong and should stop.

Thank you.

We will thank you when you Restore Dyckman Marina.

This is a Parks concession?


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2015 Event Tracker – September

 “We’ve directed La Marina to reduce the number of large-scale events”

  David Cerron, Chief Accountant, Parks & Recreation

At the May 2015 Community Board parks committee meeting, a representative from the Parks Dept. made half-hearted gurgling noises that maybe, just maybe the Dyckman Marina concession was causing some issues for the neighborhood with their nonstop massive parties and concerts, and well, gosh, perhaps there should not be quite so many of them.  After all, when the prior concession was shut down at the end of 2006, the New York Times had noted:

The Parks Department said that it planned to solicit proposals for a new concession at the site, and that it would ensure an end to the late-night parties.

Obviously that did not happen. But after three years of constant bad press and community complaints and even a shooting Parks evidently noticed they had to do something.  And so at that May 2015 meeting they stated they were “directing the concession to reduce the number of large-scale events”.

thursday djs

Typical weeknight DJs in addition to the below weekend events

Note that this is not addressing the typical DJ’s or salsa bands in the lounge on weeknights who generally are not run by outside promoters and do not require cover charges or tickets.  Those are also not allowed unless given express permission by Parks (when they use amplified music), but at least are more consistent with a normal restaurant and bar in the summertime.  And Parks has granted approval for such.  But clearly the large events in the beach and lounge that were heavily promoted, drew large crowds and created a great deal of noise were a different matter that required attention.

Parks did not give further details at the meeting as to how exactly they would limit La Marina – what size, dates, times, formats, etc would be acceptable?  How many such events?   As of July 2015 Parks would still not answer these questions – they told the Community Board that they needed to “consult legal”.   But from conversations with other community representatives it appears that Parks has limited La Marina to 15 “large special events”, which they unilaterally (and comically) defined as events with more than 1,000 people.

everydaypeopleparty

Nothing to see here, move along. (7/11/15)

Here’s the catch though; since La Marina rarely files for permits for more than 1000 people (their permits typically are filed for 1000 or less attendees), and does not provide counts of actual attendance after the fact, this is a meaningless restriction. These four pages list all of the events held in 2015.  Parks has informed neighborhood residents that only five of these have exceeded 1,000 people, so therefore there is no problem.  Clearly this is fiction piled upon absurdity.

Isn’t it great for public officials to be able to tell the public one thing, and then do the exact opposite?  Or to live in a world where 999 is a small number but 1,001 is not?   Or where quality of life issues are treated like rollover minutes and if one big event gets cool weather or rain, you get to hold another?

Again, none of these large promoted events with outdoor amplified music and non-restaurant attendance should be happening.  Not one.  It is against the contract and it is inequitable to Inwood.  The meaningless limitations “imposed” by Parks are no way to solve the problems these events cause.  Restore Dyckman Marina to its intended uses as a restaurant and marina and remove the nightclub/concert venue operations and the problems will cease.


CLICK HERE FOR MAY/JUNE 2015 EVENT LISTINGS

CLICK HERE FOR JULY 2015 EVENT LISTINGS

CLICK HERE FOR AUGUST 2015 EVENT LISTINGS


September 3 – Labor Day Weekend Kickoff Party

Hours – unknown
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – unknown
Amplified music – yes, DJ and live band
Promoter – La Famille, DoItForTheLikes
sep3 poster

September 4 – Reggae on the Hudson

Hours – 4 pm to midnight
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – yes, $15 advance, $25 at door
Amplified music – yes, DJ and live band
Promoter – Vicrae, Restless Media LLC

@juniorreidoneblood #lamarinanyc #jrproductions #wutangmanagement #smfmagazine #lifeseedmedia

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September 5 – Labor Day Saturday Day Party

Hours – 3 pm – 11 pm (12 am on ticket site)
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – $20-30, online sales
Amplified music – yes, DJ and live band
Promoter – TheUpscaleGroup, Vybe Africa, Vacnation & Platinum Kids, Carefree Nation, Get Wet Ent

#platinumkidsevents #platinumkids #labordayweekend2015 #markuswanted @paulplatinum #lamarina

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#lamarina #platinumkids #platinumkidsevents #labordayweekend2015

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#labordayweekend2015 #platinumkids #lamarina #platinumkidsevents

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September 6, 2015 – SolRepublik Beach Club

Hours – 5 pm – 1 am
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – $30 cover charge after 7 pm
Amplified music – yes, DJ
Promoter – Fully Equipped Ent, ShowtimeNY, others
sep6 poster



September 7, 2015 – Brunch Beats Summer Finale

Hours – 3 pm – 9 pm
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – $10-20, online sales
Amplified music – yes, DJs and live
Promoter – Intermixx Marketing Group, Skam Artist, Myfreeconcert.com, Moves Management Group


September 11 – Reggae on the Beach / Fashion Week Party

Hours – 6 pm to midnight (1 am on ticket site)
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – yes, $15 online sales
Amplified music – yes, DJ and live band
Promoter – Vicrae, Restless Media LLC

September 12 – #BrunchBounce with Flosstradamus

Hours – 2 pm – 1 am
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – $20-40, online sales
Amplified music – yes, DJs
Promoter – #BrunchBounce

Brand new #flosstradamus #hoodieboys #lamarina #trap ⚠️⚠️⚠️ #hdynation

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Crowd Control 🙌🏼 #BrunchBounce • @FLOSSTRADAMUS #HDYNation #LaMarina #NYC

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Aye #lamarinanyc #lamarina #brunchbounce #flosstradamus #goodtimes

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September 13, 2015 – SolRepublik Beach Club

Hours – 5 pm – 1 am
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – $30 cover charge after 7 pm
Amplified music – yes, DJ
Promoter – Fully Equipped Ent, ShowtimeNY, others
sep 13 poster

September 16, 2015 – Latin Nights

Hours – 7 pm – 10 pm
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – free but mandatory RSVP
Amplified music – yes, DJ
Promoter – Bacardi (free drinks)
wed sep 16

September 18 – Reggae on the Beach

Hours – 6 pm to midnight (1 am on ticket site)
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – yes, $15 online sales
Amplified music – yes, DJ and live band
Promoter – Vicrae, Restless Media LLC
sep18 poster

September 19 – AfrikCan Celebration Day 1

Hours – 2 pm – 11 pm
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – $35-150, online sales
Amplified music – yes, DJs and live
Promoter – Arik, Fusicology, Taranga, Okayafrica, Sahara Reporters, Applause Africa, Africology
sep19 20 poster

September 20 – AfrikCan Celebration Day 2

Hours – 2 pm – 10 pm
Attendance – unknown
Ticketed – $35-150, online sales
Amplified music – yes, DJs and live
Promoter – Arik, Fusicology, Taranga, Okayafrica, Sahara Reporters, Applause Africa, Africology

#afrikcanfestival #lamarina #youngparis

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This was my Sunday night; how about you? #afrikCANfestival #jidenna #classicman

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Get it!

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Ima classic man!! @jidenna #afrikcanfestival

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#R2Bees came through at #LaMarina. #Ghana #afrikcanfestival #AfriKanFest

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@lesnubians #afrikcanfestival

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The Joke’s On Us

 “Well, ‘concerts’ are not a defined term, so the contract suggests that live music can be a part of the site.”

  David Cerron, Chief Accountant, Revenue Division, Parks & Recreation

For three years there has been anger and confusion amongst Inwood residents over the discrepancies between what the License Agreement for the Dyckman Marina concession says vs what the operation has been in practice.  There have been meetings, and meetings, and more meetings, and meetings after that, and more meetings.  Always the same scapegoats were raised — too much success, blame DOT for the traffic, the police need to enforce traffic laws, it’s so much better than in the 90s, etc. etc.  But these various town halls and forums never involved Parks officials directly.  Finally, after three years, a Parks representative was scheduled to give an update to Community Board 12’s Parks and Cultural Affairs Committee and a room full of residents on May 5th, 2015.  What happened instead was two hours of very bizarre stand-up comedy where left was right, up was down and words had no meaning.

END OF SUMMER UPDATE – Notes provided in Red as to what actually happened in Summer 2015.

A Parks official (standing on the right) gives a laughable performance to an unsmiling audience.

A Parks official (standing on the right) gives a laughable performance to an unsmiling audience on May 5, 2015.

Credit to the committee for arranging the meeting and running an excellent session.  Heaven knows they tried to get straight answers from the officials in the room.  But the meeting ended with many more questions than answers, again.Why is it so hard for the Parks Department to understand its own contract agreements and limit the concession to its original approved uses as a restaurant and marina?  Prohibit the concerts, stop the amplified music at 10 pm and cease the unbelievably disruptive valet parking operation.  No one is laughing anymore. Restore Dyckman Marina now. 

————————————————————————–

Below is a paraphrased recap of the meeting, and apologies in advance for the snark:

On the Topic of the Contract Process

Image from the RFP response from

Image from the RFP response for The Marine”, for a 400 seat restaurant complex.  This bid was not selected but resembles in many ways was actually got built.

Lawyers attended from the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS) and the Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC).  A presentation was given regarding what defines a concession, how it gets noticed to the community, how FCRC conducts a public hearing.  The comedy was that no one had many questions about how the Dyckman Marina restaurant and concession contracts were developed or approved – the issue was with what happened after the contracts were signed when Parks unilaterally changed or ignored numerous contract clauses to enable a nightclub/concert venue.

The one direct question to MOCS asked why the actual operation of the concession seemed to better reflect one of the rejected RFP bids (for a huge restaurant destination with parking called “The Marine”, supported by Fernando Mateo) than the actual winning RFP bid (for three small restaurants and cafes on an open site plan, by Manhattan River Group, which Fernando Mateo later bought into).  MOCS merrily thought the question had to do with which political body had the right to approve bids, thus burying the question in bureaucratic white noise and leaving it unanswered.

Update – The community never heard from MOCS again.

On the Topic of Noise

The Parks representative at the meeting was David Cerron, Chief Accountant at the Revenue Division.  He acknowledged that there were some quality of life issues, and stated that the concession had “worked with the community board (?) and installed a new sound system last year with limiters to make sure noise did not emanate beyond the Premises past 10 pm.”

This was clearly a reference to what was revealed at the SLA license renewal meeting in April 2014, when the concession operators described a new sound system that would better direct sound away from residential buildings, and that any acts who brought their own sound system would have to switch to this one after 10 pm.  What this implies is that Parks is completely fine with this unprecedented workaround of city regulations and allowing DJ’s to keep playing outdoors until closing (at 1 am).

How's your Sunday? Erick Morillo at La Marina NYC!

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Parks says this video shot at Sunday, Sept 7 at 11 pm is in compliance with a contract that requires all amplified music to end at 10 pm.  What?

Is Parks joking that they don’t understand their own contract, the one that requires all amplified sound to end at 10 pm?  This was directly asked, but not answered.  Is Parks being funny when they pretend not to know that the city has a noise code that forbids noise of any level, even the sound of a whisper, to cross property lines after 10 pm, which all other Parks properties comply with (asked to name another that did not, David Cerron could not answer)?  And are they just being silly ninnies to pretend not to notice that in addition to the specific noise per se, the very act of continuing the music  until 1 am keeps everyone on the site, so that at closing time a wave of patrons exits and creates very loud crowd and car noise while providing a huge audience to keep the rest of Dyckman booming until 4 am?

Update – Music acts continued to play past 10 pm.

September 7, 2014. A woman scans a ticket for a DJ event while several employees man a cash register. The $ 60 dollars to enter the beach area Erick Morillo

Barricaded access to waterfront will not be changed by the addition of a sailing school

On the Topic of Waterfront Access

Remember all those renderings and site plans showing open waterfront access?  Access that seemed a little inconsistent with, say, VIP sections and concert barricades?  Well, Parks heard you!  And so, starting this summer will be full and open access to the site at all times!  Oh wait, no, that’s not it.  But there will be no more ticketed concerts!  No, that’s not it either.  Oh, here it is – a new sailing school!  With free programs for kids and some for adults too! Yaaaaaay.

Here’s the punchline though — while such a school is certainly welcome, one was promised in the RFP seven years ago.  Approval of a sailing school as part of the programming is in the very first paragraph of the Marina license agreement.  The sailing school was further announced in every 2012 press release when the restaurant first opened.   This is not news, this is an overdue promise and it does nothing to resolve activities that limit access, like bottle service, which Parks definitively did not approve.

And speaking of overdue promises, the EcoDock might now arrive in 2017, five years after it was funded by taxpayer dollars.  So Parks, thanks for that all that effort you’ve put into “working with the concessionaire” on things they were already supposed to do.  Ho ho ho.

Update – The sailing school finally started at the end of August.  Two days will be free; programs otherwise cost $95-200.  EcoDock remains a mystery.

On the Topic of Traffic

Everyone’s favorite item, and good news again, Parks has been working with La Marina on this matter!  They have been partnering with local garages and car service companies, and their website now says to take the subway!  Ha ha, good one, Parks, you made us think it was 2012 there for a moment.  You know, blame DOT, blame the other Dyckman St restaurants, talk about garages and such.  Oh wait, you’re serious about this?  David Cerron thinks “Traffic is not an issue exclusive to La Marina, it’s an issue in many parts of the city.  We’re working with DOT and NYPD to address.”

The fact that this backup occurred on an evening that La Marina hosted a 1,000 person concert is of course a wild coincidence.  

Um, maybe the fact that you are approving dozens of nightlife events with over 1,000 people might have something to do with it?  Or the fact that you fail to notice how La Marina is larger than every other business on Dyckman Street combined?  Or that traffic is especially bad at the exact moment when La Marina has concerts?  Really, you’re too funny.  DOT didn’t approve a massive concert venue at the end of a dead-end street — you did.  Get the joke yet?

Update – with the help of tremendous numbers of publicly-funded police resources, through traffic on Riverside and Broadway was improved; however, Dyckman, Henshaw, Staff, Payson and Seaman remained perpetually gridlocked.

On the Topic of Smoking

Parks says this is ok because it is in the nonexistent parking lot.

Perhaps responding to one of the points in the February public letter from Boro President Gale Brewer to Parks, David Cerron was very clear that smoking on parkland is prohibited for tobacco or e-cigarrettes.  And he went over that ridiculous hookah loophole.   But, he also pointed out that smoking is ok in parking lots in parks.  That is in fact true, so it would be fine if people were smoking in, say, the parking lot at the end of Dyckman Street that sits next to the Dyckman Marina concession.  But, and here’s the rub, Parks allowed La Marina to set up a designated area inside their premises for smoking in what they claim is a parking area.  Only problem – there is no parking area inside the premises.  Per the final site plan, the area where the smoking corral is set up is supposed to be the driveway to the marina ramp.  It’s not even in the restaurant premises, it’s in the marina!  The fact that the operators use it as occasional unauthorized VIP parking for Lambos does not a parking lot make it.  It is parkland, and it has been wrongly converted to a smoking zone with the approval of the Parks Department.  Is that carcinogenic comedy or what?

Update – No change.

On the Topic of Ticketed Events

David Cerron did say something truthful, which was that the quality of life issues around the Dyckman Marina concession just might have something to do with the frequency of “private events”.  Parks apparently feels that the contract allows the concession to have private events, but they are now acting to limit the number of events of 1,000 people or more and the Community Board would be given notice of these events.  (Left unsaid was how many events Parks would allow, the time of day they would be allowed, the days of the week they would be allowed, or that the Community Board does not even meet during the summer months).

Not to sour the hilarity of the above statement, but here is what the accepted RFP from the operator actually said about private events:

Individuals, corporations, and organizations will have the option of renting the Costera pier area, the Costera garden area, or 315…. In addition to hosting weddings, communions, bar/bat mitzvahs, bridal showers, corporate functions, tour groups, birthdays, anniversaries, rehearsal dinners and other private events, MRG proposes to use the property for community events such as Memorial/Labor Day picnics, clambakes, 4th of July fireworks displays, and a regular farmer’s market.

Ha, ha, how cute, no mention of 1,000+ person concerts by DJs or live music but of course that was the approved intent, right Parks?  So yes, the contract does allow for “special events” without regard to number or quantity, but given that concerts were prohibited and the approved site plan had no stage or concert area of course the contract really meant that bar mitzvahs with thousands of people would be kosher, and therefore DJ Boris and other music events sponsored by Pacha nightclub would be fine too.  Too funny!

Update – up to five promoted, large-attendance events per weekend were allowed.  Most were ticketed or required a cover charge.  Approximately fifty (50) promoted music events in total were hosted.

On the Topic of Valet Parking

Depending on the event the listed price is either $ 10 or $ 20 dollars.

“I don’t see a concession, I see a solution to traffic problems because providing parking never attracts patrons to come by car” said no one ever.

Several board members and residents at the meeting asked point-blank questions of David Cerron and MOCS about how exactly a parking concession could be operated outside of the Dyckman Marina premises without a concession agreement.  The answer seemed to be that you don’t need a concession agreement to run a parking business on parks property if Parks is ok with it.  Specifically, David Cerron said that “the act of paying someone to park a car for you is not illegal and does not represent a concession”, and besides, the valet parking is part of the solution to the traffic problem!

Once the laughter died down over that last part, everyone reminded themselves of what MOCS had presented earlier in the evening:

“Concession” shall mean a grant made by an agency for the private use of city-owned property for which the city receives compensation other than in the form of a fee to cover administrative costs, except that concessions shall not include franchises, revocable consents and leases.

The La Marina operators, who were present, said they reported the revenue from the valet parking and paid the city their fee based on that revenue, and all agreed the valet parking was taking place on parkland and city streets, so how exactly is this allowable again?  Har-dee-har.

Also, the parking spots where the valet operates are all marked “No Standing 6pm-6am”, a change that DOT made after requests from Parks and La Marina in 2012.  So the parking spots don’t even exist as parking spots during the time the valet is not illegally parking that car for you.  Following this logic, I guess it’s open season for setting up valet parking businesses in Central Park (or anywhere else) since the act of parking cars on non-spaces on city property without a concession agreement is just peachy with Parks and MOCS?  Woo-hoo!

Update – Illegal valet parking continued to be allowed, to the extent of having valet staff seize all of Staff Street.  

On the Topic of Capacity

Parks thinks any capacity ok with the Fire Dept is ok with them.  Because capacity doesn’t impact anything else about the approved uses, right?

There were several questions about capacity.  For the first time in recorded history, Parks actually understood the listed capacity correctly.  With some help from the audience, it was clarified that just under 2,100 was listed on the Public Assembly Permits.    The La Marina operators then stated that they could host many more if they just added some more restrooms (?).

But the real ringer from an audience member was why exactly Parks allowed such a large complex to operate i the first place when they had originally promised a much smaller facility.  It was high comedy to watch David Cerron twist and turn to do everything possible to not actually answer this question other than to state that anything the Fire Department approved was A-OK with Parks, there was “sufficient capacity for what has been allowed”.  Suggested ‘Who’s On First’ routine for future meetings:

  • Why did you allow this capacity?
  • Because it was sufficient for what was allowed.
  • What was allowed?
  • Whatever there was sufficient capacity for.
  • Sufficient for what?
  • Whatever was allowed.

The fact that approving such a large capacity led to so many other problems was thereby amusingly swept under the rug.

Update – La Marina changed their website to state that their private event capacity was 1,500.   Many 2015 events were described online as being “sold out”.

On the Topic of Concerts

From the beginning, one of the biggest questions for Parks has been why dozens and dozens of concerts were approved when the contract language clearly stated “concerts are strictly prohibited”.  Here was the comedic highlight of the night, from David Cerron:

“Well, ‘concerts’ are not a defined term.  So the contract suggests that live music can be part of the site.  If the intent was to ban live music it would have said so.”

Um, I think the ban was the “concerts are strictly prohibited at the Licensed Premises” part.  In any case, here is a helpful definition from the Mirriam-Webster dictionary:

concert

Given that the special permits for DJs, bands and artists approved by Parks say right on them the words “Live Musical Performance” it’s completely bonkers that Parks is trying to claim  “concerts are strictly prohibited” means “live musical performances are just dandy”.  What kind of performance exactly would Parks consider the type of concert that would be banned, the New York Philharmonic?

I suppose at the next meeting we will hear how Parks’ legal interpretation of such contract language as “Alcoholic beverages may only be served during sit-down service” means the three massive standing bars in the Liquor License Application are totally ok, because standing is really the same as sitting, except for that your knees are not bent.  Am I right?

The stand-up comedy skills of the Parks Dept. representatives are highly underrated.

Update – The 50 concerts held during the summer of 2015 featured both DJs and live acts.

On the Topic of An Environmental Impact Statement

Traffic backed up onto Henshaw (Facebook)

La Marina had absolutely no particular traffic impact?

A question was asked about whether an EIS was performed, and if not then why.  David Cerron could not really answer this, as apparently he was unaware with the statement by the Parks Director of Concessions at the 2008 FCRC hearing that:

“This is an existing use, previously a [marina] cafe, for at least, I believe, 15 years. I don’t know the exact number; at least the last 10 years. So this is not a new use of this space. Therefore, we didn’t do any [environmental assessment], because typically it is existing use and we know what the conditions that were there before.  We don’t think there is going to be any — the concessionaire has offered to work with local garages to make sure that there is valet  parking; to encourage people to come by public  transportation. And we don’t think there’s going  to be a particular traffic impact based on the concession.

It’s too bad this was not brought up, as the MOCS and FCRC representatives in the room could have addressed what happens exactly when Parks blatantly lies to their committee.  But in any case, David Cerron had nothing to joke about on this topic.

Update – As before, no EIS was performed.

On the Topic of a Cabaret License

There was a question asked of the concession about whether they had a cabaret license, aka a “license to dance“.  The concession admitted that they did not have such a license but that they were not a dancing establishment, so, you know.  (More guffaws.)  Parks stayed silent on the topic but the police stepped up to keep the comedy going.  The representative from the 34th Precinct said whenever he has stopped by he has not seen a dance floor or people dancing; in essence the NYPD does not see a cabaret.  Ha ha!

This is not a dancing establishment.

(Some in the room were confused as to why anyone cared about dancing.  The answer of course is that no one does – the cabaret license is just a de facto nightlife license used as an enforcement tool when a bar or restaurant gets too rowdy and becomes a bad neighbor.  Or in this case, if a contract agreement that prohibits concerts is being utterly and totally ignored.)

Update – Dancing continued to be allowed without a cabaret license.

On the Use of the Name in Songs and Videos

Screenshot from When I Feel Like It (YouTube)

These hoes keep calling, I ain’t picking up“, says Fabolous, another repeat performer who has filmed videos at the site.

Another direct question was whether Parks was comfortable with the now-infamous use of the concession’s name in songs and videos that referenced drugs and violence.  David Cerron then pointed out how the operators can’t control every use of their name, and people had First Amendment rights after all.  (How sporting of Parks to care more about the Constitution than their constituents!)

David Cerron did not mention how it came to be that several music videos were filmed on the site, or that perhaps allowing the city’s largest nightlife destination to exist at a restaurant concession just might, might, lead to it becoming a cultural reference for songs about nightlife.

The operators also protested that of course anything bad for their brand was bad for them too and that they did everything they could to control the use of the name.  And that while it was easy to call them a nightclub, they were not a nightclub, they were a restaurant.  Which all makes total sense when French Montana says this:

I get it from me prima
Yall n****s might have seen her
The cokin cowboys, they goin’ La Marina
You fuck up her money, Oooh mama mia

or maybe this…:

Three bricks for a verse, that’s a swap, n****
Shout my n**** Meek, he on lock, n****
Shout my n**** Max, he in a box, n****
Pull up La Marina in a yacht, n****
Then skate off like a pirate with ya thot, n****
You heard she’s a freaky ho
Bitch ain’t loyal, she fucked Breezy, ho
Believe me, you can ask Weezy, ho
I heard she fucked Puff like a week ago
But I still want the pussy though

… but then, you know, La Marina has him over to their “restaurant” for a couple sold-out concerts and lets him film a video on the site.  So of course Parks and its concessionaire has nothing to do with this topic, ever.  (Rim shot, please).

Update – Additional songs were released in 2015 that mentioned “La Marina”.  

On Next Steps

Instagram post promoting Memorial Day 2015 event at La Marina.

Instagram post promoting Memorial Day 2015 event at La Marina.

So after two hours, nothing new had been learned other than that Parks would be vaguely limiting the number of large events in a completely unspecified way that apparently still included Sunday concerts, that the overdue sailing school might be started in 2015, and that otherwise Parks considered everything just hunky-dory in terms of contract compliance for the Dyckman Marina concession.

It was perhaps only at the meeting’s end that people realized this had not been a comedy show after all but a very unfunny and disappointing performance by the Parks Department about legitimate issues and concerns that had been voiced for years and never resolved.  Judging by what’s already booked for Memorial Day Weekend it looks like they will not be this year either.

Update – Nothing changed.  Inwood was treated as inequitably as in past seasons.

Restore Dyckman Marina and end this madness.


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Winter 2015 Update

 “May 1 OPENING DAY is just around the corner. Knives sharpened, smoker smoking, DJ’s aching to spin.”

 From La Marina’s Facebook page, April 21 2015.

Summer is coming.

After three full years of well-documented issues with the operation of the Dyckman Marina concession vs. its approved contract and site plan, very little has happened in the way of change. Most of the concerns with concerts, nightlife uses, capacity, traffic, valet parking, etc. continue to be as valid in 2015 as they were in 2012. And so a new summer is nearly upon us.

summer is coming copy

If the prior summers are any guide, here are some questions for 2015:

La Marina's announcement on their Facebook page of their upcoming season opening.

La Marina’s announcement on their Facebook page of their upcoming season opening. Excitement over menu and drink specials is consistent with a restaurant operation.   “DJ’s aching to spin” is not.

The many elected officials and agencies charged with overseeing parkland in New York City have said nothing about any plans to restore Dyckman Marina in 2015.   This despite sparing Flushing Meadows from a soccer and event stadium after an uproar in 2012 that it would have altered the nature of the park and the community.  Or despite noisy concerts being kicked out of Hudson River Park in 2013 after causing problems for nearby residents.  Or despite Fashion Week being booted out of Damrosch Park in 2014 over privatization and parkland alienation issues.   Why is Inwood treated differently, and inequitably?

If you are interested in seeing any action to address the issues illustrated on these pages before the thermometer hits 80 degrees, please the public officials in charge and let them know how you feel.

You can also join the CRDM mailing list, which has grown to include many individuals, co-op boards and groups; send an email to restoredyckmanmarina@gmail.com to be added.

Summer is coming.

summer20