HEMPSTEAD VILLAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It is an unflattering and unwanted reputation – being known as “Boozetown, USA.”
The mayor of Hempstead Village on Long Island is on a crusade to rid his proud community of the drinking capitol stigma, reports CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Wayne Hall is on a crusade to stem the flow of booze in the village. He pointed to 167 businesses in his historic 3.7 square-mile municipality that are licensed to sell alcohol. Some are located near schools.
“For every mile there’s 45 establishments selling alcohol and that’s unheard of,” Hall said.
Hempstead Village is one of the oldest in New York State. In 1790, on a site that is now a bodega, George Washington visited a tavern. Under new laws, bodegas and delis are now selling beer and wine — and more are trying to move in.
“We need to bring families back here,” local realtor Nick Singh said. “Liquor doesn’t keep neighborhoods safe.”
Police Chief Joseph Wing said the department registered 400 calls in the last year for drunken, unruly behavior, not to mention the fact that 911 calls at 3 a.m. have quadrupled.
“Disturbance calls, the urinating in public calls, the loud music calls … the village is swamped. It’s not fair to residents,” Wing said.
“Just too much alcohol being sold in the area,” hair salon manager Phyllis Ramsey said. “Just the other night I had someone follow me to my car. It really scared me.”
The mayor discovered the State Liquor Authority was routinely granting licenses here, confusing the Village of Hempstead with the much larger Town of Hempstead. He said he is now working with the state to halt any additional licensing.
“We just don’t want to be known as the alcohol capitol of Long Island,” Mayor Hall said.
Because of the mayor’s campaign, there has been an unprecedented resolution. Permits must now be approved by the full board of the State Liquor Authority.
Hempstead’s mayor and police chief predict fewer bars, bodegas and liquor stores will have a drastic and positive effect on quality of life.
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