On Thursday night, Community Board 6 will hold a hearing to decide whether to support a renewal of the liquor license at a bar in Park Slope called Union Hall.
The battle over Union Hall — with angry neighbors complaining that the popular nightspot has created a nuisance — is just the latest clash that we see repeated throughout popular Brooklyn neighborhoods between a local bar owner’s desire to serve drinks and book bands and area residents who say that doing so violates their neighborhood’s peace and quiet.
Earlier this year, a similar fight broke out in Carroll Gardens after the owner of the Black Mountain Wine Bar at the corner of Union and Hoyt streets announced that he wanted to open an oyster bar around the corner on Hoyt Street.
Just as in the current Union Hall case, neighbors claimed that the bar is a menace to the community. But what “community”? At Union Hall, the book-lined front room, bocce courts, patio area, $3 happy hour drafts and basement concert venue has become a true neighborhood destination. And to think, a year and a half ago, it was a shuttered kitchen cabinet store.
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While the State Liquor Authority has said that CB6 won’t influence it one way or the other, the hearing is vital given its timing.
More and more, Brooklyn neighborhoods are establishing their own nightlife scenes so that residents no longer have to rely on Manhattan for their entertainment. This revitalizes dormant commercial spaces, provides jobs in Brooklyn, and gives people a chance to hang out with their neighbors without leaving the neighborhood.
That said, all this after-hours activity can get out of hand, as our story on page 5 reports. And in such cases, community boards can play an important role in getting all the aggrieved parties together so such things can be worked out — as a neighborhood.
Most of us want lively commercial strips in our neighborhoods, but we also want a reasonable amount of peace and quiet.
Such needs are not necessarily incompatible — which is why Thursday’s community board hearing is so important.