Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ridgewood "Teen Bash" Canceled Due to Concerns

By Conor Greene

For the second time in as many months, a party aimed at attracting underage teenagers has been shut down following complaints from the community.

Postcards featuring a scantily-clad woman advertising a “Teen Bash” on Saturday, November 29 at Marsel Lounge, 618 Fairview Avenue in Ridgewood, were found littering the streets surrounding Grover Cleveland High School, according to the Juniper Park Civic Association.

The civic association alerted Community Board 5 of the party, which informed officers at the 104th Precinct and officials at the State Liquor Authority and Department of Consumer Affairs. While Marsel Lounge notified CB 5 earlier this year that it was applying for a license allowing it to serve wine only, police say the premise currently doesn’t have license to serve any alcohol.

Last Friday, Marsel Cullhaj, who runs Marsel Lounge, posted the following message online stating that the party at 618 Fairview Avenue was canceled: “This is Marcel. The party at my lounge is cancel!!! No whore party will happen here!!!! The one that rented the place come in 4 more info and get u deposit back!!! Take the fliers down!!!”

Cullhaj did not respond to a message sent to his e-mail address seeking additional comment on the situation. An officer from the 104th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit met with the person who owns the property and rents it to Cullhaj, and warned him that the building would be padlocked under the city’s nuisance abatement law if parties attracting underage drinkers are held there in the future.

There have been no prior complaints field with the precinct regarding this particular establishment, but there were about a dozen complaints on file with the city’s 311 line, said police. “This concerned us because the community was getting nervous about it and doesn’t want it to turn into a problem location,” said Officer Tommy Bell. “The owner seemed reputable and said he would look into it.”

Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5, said that officers from the 104th Precinct spoke with the owner, leading to the cancellation of the event. “Certainly it’s something we need to be concerned about,” said Giordano of these types of events aimed at local high school students. “When we know it is going to take place, we need to take whatever action we need to make sure either it doesn’t happen, or if it does, it’s controlled.”

A similar but apparently unrelated event was advertised in early October for a Metropolitan Avenue restaurant called Metronome. After one party there resulted in issues including scores of drunken partygoers spilling into local residential area, a second event was canceled due to pressure from local officials, police and civic groups.

“It’s more of a recent issue in my memory,” said Giordano of these types of events, which are often advertised online. “When you have a little place like Fairview Avenue and it is being advertised to the extent it is, you don’t know what you are going to get. It’s very easy for them to get out of control.”

Kathy Masi, a member of CB 5 and the Glendale Civic Association, was one of the local community leaders who contacted the precinct about the party. She credited Christina Wilkinson of the JPCA for bringing the issue to the foreground. “It was very wise of her to reach out to everyone. Not many people put everything else aside and step up to the plate like that,” said Masi.

She noted that these types of parties, including the one held at Metronome, are run by outside promoters who rent out different bars and lounges. “From what I understand, they kind of bounce around,” said Masi. “It is not that this particular location has this regularly.”

Wilkinson, secretary for the JPCA, said there types of events have no place in bedroom communities such as Ridgewood or Middle Village. “Allowing it to happen opens up the door to a host of other problems, so it’s best to nip this in the bud before if mushrooms out of control,” she said. “It’s sad that they thought they could brazenly advertise this event and that no one would notice or care.”

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