Essex County Government Center, Elizabethtown
No one spoke against Essex County’s proposal to move last call at local bars from 4 to 3 a.m. during a public forum at the Old County Courthouse June 13.
In fact, most of the attendees said closing bars down at 2 a.m. would be more appropriate.
“Nothing good happens while alcohol is involved between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.,” Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said. “When we first put it out there about shifting closing time to 2 a.m., we faced controversy in Saranac Lake, North Elba and Lake Placid because in Franklin County, bars can stay open till 3 a.m. We figured 3 a.m. was a good compromise.”
The measure put before the State Liquor Authority would change the times county businesses can sell alcohol. Currently, business owners in Essex County can serve alcohol between noon and 4 a.m. on Sunday and 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. every other day.
Morrow told State Liquor Authority representatives Dennis Rosen and Jaqueline Held that the extra hour is responsible for many health and safety hazards.
“In the Adirondack Park, where retail development is often restricted to our small hamlets, alcohol outlets are often tucked in close to school and residential housing. We are all working to revitalize life in our small villages,” said Mac McDevitt of the Essex County Prevention Team. “Bars stay open into the early hours of the morning and have a negative impact on the quality of life in our villages and actually work against economic development of village vitality.”
Ticonderoga Police Chief Mark Johns said the three club-like bars in Ticonderoga have patrons hanging out in the bar rooms until at least a half an hour after the 4 a.m. cut-off when all alcoholic beverages must be removed from the bar. After the bars close, Johns said people congregate on streets and sidewalks outside the bars and are loud, brash, and sometimes engage in criminal activity.
“It’s a quality of life issue,” Johns said. “We have many events that begin around 4 a.m., like fishing tournaments, and early in the morning people are heading off to work or are getting up to go running or walking, and they are met with this.”
John said if the hours were changed it would alleviate the distress of citizens in the area who are not bar patrons but getting up to start their day.
Business owner Vic Kraus, owner of the Mountain View Inn of Lake Placid said the early morning downtown activities that take place only a few hundred feet from his business has hurt the quality of his guest’s stay on numerous occasions.
“This is a long-standing problem and it seems to get pretty bad when it gets to be 4 and 5 a.m.,” Kraus said. “It’s crass, there is shouting of obscenities, vandalism, screeching tires and police have done what they can but it happens all year.”
Kraus said he feels at a loss when customers come to him enraged at the disruption the late-night crowd has caused but there is nothing in his power to change it.
“4 a.m. is much too late, I feel closing time should be 2 a.m.” said Kraus. “With sites like Trip Advisor complaining customers don’t just get to vent to you but anyone who can see it online. It can do a lot of damage to a business.”
Rosen said he would have been interested to hear from local business owners who were opposed to the motion but feels it will be an easy decision since none showed up to protest the measure.
“The reason I come is so I can hear for myself firsthand, there is a difference between hearing about it and hearing it firsthand,” Rosen said. “Half of the vote is right here and we take this tremendously into account. I’d be interested to see what opposition there would be and it’s interesting to us that there wasn’t any. The resolutions is what we will take into account.”
Along with the change in “closing time,” law, the county-sponsored resolution, offered by Morrow, will do away with a law that prohibited the sale of alcohol between the hours of noon and 3 p.m. on Good Friday.
Rosen said the authority will make a decision regarding the Essex County bar hours at their meeting Wednesday, June 19, at 10 a.m. in Albany. The link to a live broadcast of the meeting will be available at the authority’s website, sla.ny.gov.