Wednesday, July 18, 2018

La Marina Shut Down After City Inspection Yields More than 90 Violations



The controversial Parks Department concession La Marina in upper Manhattan operated by the Manhattan River Group LLC whose owners include Mayor de Blasio associate Fernando Mateo was shut down on Friday night after an inspection. More than 90 violations were issued by the Department of Health,  The State Liquor Authority and the NYPD. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.

Manhatten

By Geoffrey Croft


Welcome to the Parks Department's most infamous family concession, La Marina, where area neighbors live in dread.


A place where strippers brawl, where an employee was shot in the neck and where violence and crime spills out into the surrounding residential community. 


The controversial nightclub and restaurant were ordered closed by the NYC Department of Health on Friday night after city and state officials issued more than ninety violations.


The NY State Liquor Authority, Department of Health, and NYPD converged on the politically connected hot spot after a series of troubling incidents.  


Beginning at 8pm, authorities spent approximately two and a half hours meticulously documenting numerous violations during the business inspection.   


La Marina received 74 violation points, almost triple the number needed to trigger a shut down during the Department of Health's inspection on Friday. 




A yellow Department of Health closing notice posted on the restaurant over the weekend. 



The Health Department issued 15 Health Code violations. Evidence of mice or live mice were found in  the facility's food and/or non-food areas,  filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies  were found present in the facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies including house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies were also found.


Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies were also found. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage were also discovered.


The NY State Liquor Authority (SLA) also issued 64 violations including finding bugs in the liquor and non-working emergency exit lights. 

The NYPD issued 13 summonses including for blocked exits including pad-locked exit gates. The police also issued violations for non working emergency lights.

The police have been involved in several recent incidents at La Marina. 


Six people were hospitalized on July 7th for an undisclosed illness inside the location - later determined to be excessive intoxication. The NYPD issued violations to the concession for over serving.  

While officers were writing the tickets a man left the club, picked up his car in the valet area and drove into two parked cars including the marked police car with two officers inside. 



July 7, 2018. According to police an intoxicated,  unlicensed Brooklyn driver left the club, picked up his car in the valet area and drove into two parked cars including a marked police car with two officers inside. The driver got out and ran and was captured by police.  


The driver got out and ran and was apprehended by police nearby. Brooklyn resident Nigel Lewis, 27, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, DWI, Reckless Driving and cited for no license according to the NYPD.  The  incident occurred at approximately 8:15 p.m. 

On June 15th a La Marina worker was arrested in an NYPD undercover sting operation and charged with serving a patron under the age of 21.

The concession is also facing several prior State Liquor Authority violations.  In 2017 La Marina was cited for being over capacity,  and not operating a year-round establishment each of which are cause for revocation, cancellation or suspension of the license.

On July 2, 2017, the licensee violated the Rules of the NY State Liquor Authority in not conforming with all applicable building codes and/or fire regulations regarding occupancy level. 

The NYPD was forced to shut down the club due to dangerous overcrowding which included overselling 2500 tickets according to the police.   One event,   Bikini Palooza was so inappropriately advertised that Parks forced a renaming to Beach Wear Affair after community complaints). 


The action resulted in large crowds spilling into the surrounding neighborhood along Dyckman St. and Broadway.   Police made several arrests for reckless operation of motorcycles and seized bikes.  NYPD also issued numerous summonses.


La Marina representatives have publicly denied the NYPD shut the concession down. 


According to the State Liquor Authority La Marina is required to apply for a seasonal license annually which they were caught violating.

On December 1, 2017 and on a continuing basis, the licensee ceased to be operated as a bona fide premises within the contemplation of the license issued for such premises, according to the SLA complaint.



One La Marina owner  said Friday's enforcement action caused the establishment to be "unfairly closed without notice." 

"No violation of the health code is ever acceptable; and we are doing all we can to reassure the Department of Health that we are and will continue to be compliant with its rules and policies,"  part owner Jerald Tenenbaum said in a statement to A Walk In The Park.  

"We plan to reopen on Wednesday with the Department's approval," he said.

The premises were re-opened this afternoon. 



Sign of the Times. 


Mr. Tenenbaum stated that it was not the kitchen but other areas of the two acre establishment that caused the business to be unfairly closed without notice. 

Community Board 12 recently voted to deny renewing La Marina's liquor license the first time since the controversial business opened in 2012.

La Marina founders Josh Rosen and Jerald Tenenbaum's response to neighborhood criticism was characterized as "everything’s great,” said an area resident who attended the April Community Board meeting and agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. 


"They said we are not going to talk about the 10pm (music) claim and we’re not going to talk about the valet park thing. They just refused to discuss it.

People really weren’t happy with the answers. What are you bringing to us,  you just come here telling us the same stories, everything is fine nothing’s your fault. They told a grand tale of its all DOT’s fault and the police fault its everyone else's fault," the resident said. 

In September La Marina owner and Mayor de Blasio associate Fernando Mateo threatened to sue the local 34th Pct. claiming that area businesses were being targeted unfairly.     



In 2016 Mateo was caught funneling $ 18,000 dollars to the de Blasio campaign  through an unemployed Brooklyn woman, a clear violation of campaign election law. 

In 2017 it was revealed that Mateo has been pressuring officials to get his niece promoted in the NYPD.

Lack of Parks Department Oversight 

La Marina has long been the subject of community complaints regarding 
quality-of-life violations including noise, parking according to the NYPD.

Area residents have complained since the concession's full seasonal opening in 2013 contending that La Marina has been allowed to run an illegal nightclub.  Critics say the concession routinely violates its license agreement with the city. 

Residents also bitterly complain about a "bait and switch."  


As originally presented to the public, the concession was to be a welcome family and community-friendly restaurant and grounds, with waterfront access for recreation.  Features were to include a cafe with a sailing school, kayak storage, picnic tables, open grounds and lunch service “community place to eat”  as promised.  


  
As originally presented to the public, the concession was to be a welcome family and community-friendly restaurant and grounds, with waterfront access for recreation. What the community got instead was very different. Most of the above area became a limited-access bottle-service and hookah VIP area (where a security guard was shot in 2014).



What they got instead they say is a nightmare. The city allowed a high-end restaurant and nightclub/concert venue to open. 

The contract prohibits concerts and requires public access.  Nonetheless, these became primary uses along with the restaurant, and hours and capacity were extended by Parks without public notification. 


City ordinance typically prevents amplified music in parks after 10:00pm.  Their concession contract (Section 10.18) also prohibits any amplified music after 10 pm.  And the music is most certainly amplified. 


The City has also been accused of allowing the operation of an illegal operated valet parking concession on parks property and on adjacent city streets.  


The  large valet operation extends west past the Parks Department property including up to Staff Street, using No Standing and regular street parking spaces. 


The 2009 concession contracts for the Marina and for the Cafe do not include the valet areas in either of their premises.  The City has been unable to provide the license agreement containing the valet parking concession,   or any proof that the concession was competitively bid or approved by Franchise Concession Review Committee,   or that any agreement exists with DOT authorizing this activity. Clear violations of city law.



A large illegal parking operation has been allowed to operate not only on city owned parkland but also on city streets. 


The illegal valet operation has extended on Dyckman St. up to Staff Street, several blocks east from La Marina. 


The DPR has “gifted” the parks department land to La Marina for parking according to several city sources.  


La Marina also uses the public greenway bike path as another entrance to the beach and concert venue which people line up on.  This illegal use of public parkland is also not in the contract. The entry, and the concert venue itself, does not appear on the site plans approved by the Public Design Commission in 2011.


Several requests seeking comment from the Parks Department went unanswered.


A 2017 Comptroller Audit found the owners underreported its gross receipts from the Restaurant by at least $488,874.

Critics also contend that vast amounts of NYPD resources are directed to the private business,  man-power that could be better utilized and equitably distributed elsewhere. 


The Police are regularly assigned to La Marina to address multiple quality-of-life issues. 




"We find the volume of DOH violations scary with La Marina's 2000+ person occupancy the public health has been put at risk,“ said Nancy Preston, Moving Forward Unidos member, a group that has been advocating for oversight on the NYC Parks concession since 2013.

"We thank the agencies for investigating and taking action.   We hope La Marina will correct all the violations.    

La Marina should be restored to what the community was originally promised, a small, family friendly restaurant, snack bar and boat marina," she said.      



Saturday night closed.

Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on images to enlarge.



Department of Health Violations

La Marina received 74 violation points, almost triple the number needed to trigger a shut down during the Department of Health's inspection on Friday. 


It takes three consecutive inspections of 28+ points to be closed.  0 to 13 points is an A, 14 to 27 points is a B, anything more than 27 is a C.  


Violations recorded in the following area (s), a Notice of Violation issued and establishment ordered closed by the Department of Health at the re-inspection conducted on 07/13/2018.
"Critical" violations are displayed in red.
Violation points: 74
Sanitary Violations
1) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F.
2) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
3) Raw, cooked or prepared food is adulterated, contaminated, cross-contaminated, or not discarded in accordance with HACCP plan.
4) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
5) Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
6) Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
7) Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution.
8) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
9) Plumbing not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.

They had 31 points and three criticals on their prior inspection in June:

Violations recorded in the following area (s) and a Notice of Violation issued at the initial operational cycle inspection conducted on 06/05/2018.
"Critical" violations are displayed in red.
Violation points: 31
Sanitary Violations
1) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
3) Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.
4) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
5) Plumbing not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.
6) Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained and/or not properly sealed, raised, spaced or movable to allow accessibility for cleaning on all sides, above and underneath the unit.

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - July 14, 2014 














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