Town vs. gown! Locals battle Clark Street ‘animal house’

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Rowdy students at a Brooklyn Heights dormitory are turning leafy Clark Street into a recurring scene from “Animal House”— and it has irked residents so badly that the owner of the building has vowed to take unprecedented security measures to curb the boozy behavior.

Residents say students at the dorm inside the former Hotel St. George near Henry Street have that “can-do” spirit — and that’s not a good thing, with reports of undergrads hurling soda and water bottles and containers of yogurt at unsuspecting passersby, a dangerous complement to the uproarious behavior outside the dorm.

“We get the worst of it,” according to Clark Street resident Kendra Stanchfield, who said she hears students cursing and playing loud music in the wee hours of weekday nights. “They’re just kids — but for this neighborhood, it’s not what you expect.”

Neighbor Julia Sommer agreed: “It’s quite loud. It affects my sleep, and sometimes, in the middle of the night, there will be some screaming from somebody who comes home drunk, and it wakes you up.”

And walking down the street can be hazardous — to your tailoring bill.

“One time, they threw a yogurt, and it came very close to hitting me,” said Heights resident Peter Myers.

And it has been a site of recurring problems for the past 14 years — ever since the students moved into the grand building, which was once the largest hotel in the city, and where part of “The Godfather” was filmed.

“This has been going on for years,” said Clark Street resident Andrew McKeon. “This has been a systemic problem since it’s been a dorm.”

Residents have been urging the dorm to do more — and officials say they are taking the complaints seriously.

A student suspected in one of the can-hurling incidents has been evicted, said Christy Gaiti-Chatfield, vice president of student life for Educational Housing Services, the non-profit company that manages the dorm, which includes 1,300 students from about 12 area colleges.

She said surveillance cameras would soon be installed on rooftops across the street from the dorm, at a cost of close to $10,000. The dorm also has a paid staffer stationed outside the building on weekends, and is inspecting every room to ensure that window guards are in place.

“I’m embarrassed by the students’ behavior — but it’s a small minority who are just unfortunately acting out,” she said. “We want to be an asset to the neighborhood, not a detriment.”

Deputy Inspector Mark DiPaolo, commanding officer of the 84th Precinct, said a community affairs officer recently met with officials at the dorm. He said he was not aware of any injuries related to the rowdy behavior.

And area merchants are on board, too, saying students looking to fuel their revels can’t do so locally.

“They try,” said Cesar Moneda of Michael Towne Wine & Spirits on Clark Street. “We’re not giving liquor to underage college kids,” he vowed, pointing to a wall plastered with confiscated fake IDs.

Students downplayed the rowdy reports, explaining that it’s only a small handful of students causing a ruckus.

“A lot of it is people are bored and want something to complain about,” said Pace University student Elliot Palatnik.

Still, he conceded that there are some in the building who are at fault. “They’re known to have been using certain drugs that are illegal,” he said.

Pace student Anton Landauer agreed. “There’s a select amount of people that are noisy, and then there’s people that are not,” he said. “I can sleep normal, I’ve never woken up from it.”

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Brian from Manhattan says:
Does anyone remember what this hotel was like before the students arrived 14 years ago?
May 5, 2011, 12:29 pm
Joshua Michaels from Brooklyn Heights says:
Well I must say this is really getting blown out of proportion. I don't know who is lying about this but I could never in my life imagine these wonderful students doing something like this. Are these the same students who helped find my dog? Or helped me out of the snow when I got stuck during the blizzard? Or maybe it's the girl who baby sits my daughter on the weekends. I don't know who is it but I will tell you society makes students go to college and then complains when they're enjoying themselves. On numerous occasions I have walked through the dorms and conversed with the students and they're absolutely wonderful and on top of that the dorms were silent. Everyone was studying!!.... Well I think this pretty much sums up my opinion on the matter. Pro Students.

ps. their money contributes to the success of small businesses. Pick your poison people.
May 5, 2011, 12:52 pm
dean collins from brooklyn heights says:
I agree probably less issue now than when it was a heroin flop house years ago....but yes when listening to them yelling along henry st at 2-4am on saturday/sunday morning drunk out of their skulls i wish the trees didnt provide coverage from my paint ball gun.
May 5, 2011, 2:50 pm
Mary Jane from brooklyn heights says:
Most of these Yuppies are already awake because there infant children are screaming. I don't like overprivileged children screaming in my ear on my way to school but i deal with it. Kids in college getting drunk is not a new trend. This is NYC, It gets loud. Move to New Jersey if you want quite.
May 5, 2011, 7:52 pm
Vito Max from Brooklyn Heights says:
As a St. George Hotel resident, I can tell all of the people reading this article, and all of the members of the great community of Brooklyn Heights, that no matter how much you yuppies decide to whine and complain, there will be no changes. The owner of this beautiful residency does not care for the qualms you have about the noise or that your clothes from banana republic and urban outfitters clothing. On a second note, i would like you to know that this information posted on this article is not true, no "suspect" has been evicted from this building for any such reason. As an adult living in this residency as close neighbors to the college students you are all referring to, I can tell you that they are bright and courteous young adults. If you want to experience real problems, try visiting a bad neighborhood for once in your spoiled lives. Coming from Bedford-Stuyvesant I can alert you that none of your problems are valid and you should enjoy your time living here without having to risk your safety.

Thank you for your time.
May 5, 2011, 11:50 pm
ClarkStResident from Brooklyn Heights says:
A little over a week ago, on a Tuesday night just after midnight, I was lying in bed when, for the THIRD time in two weeks, there was incredibly loud music coming from across the street (from the 2nd floor, either over the subway station entrance or a little bit west of it.) For the second time (the first time, I just couldn’t be bothered) I got out of bed, got dressed, and went to talk to the security guard. As had happened the last time I went, he told me that he couldn’t go upstairs, because he needed someone to come and relieve him. As this was the second time it happened, I asked him what kinds of consequences these students would have, or how I might escalate the noise complaint. He was very sympathetic but told me that the procedure is for him to notify the RA, and that students don’t face a formal warning unless they still keep their music loud after that. Now, mind you, other people had come in and told him before me, but again, he couldn’t go do anything about it because he needed someone to relieve him. I don’t actually understand why the RA wasn’t there or doing anything (isn’t that their job?) but again…. The music was REVERBERATING off both sides of the street. I am a heavy sleeper and it was unbelievably loud.

I asked for the number of the building manager and left him a voicemail asking him to call me so that we could discuss the situation. I never got any kind of a call back. At least the music’s stopped for now, but I am frustrated that they don’t have better community relations. I used to work in residential life for a university and was responsible for 250 students who lived in among other residents in an apartment complex, and we took complaints and relations with the community way more seriously than EHS appears to - despite what Christy Gaty-Chatfield states in this article. I think that a return phone call would be a minimum courtesy - my message was rational, and not irate. I'm more irritated now, however.
May 6, 2011, 12:19 am
Jonathan Bear from EHS Student says:
I would like to respond to CLARKSTRESIDENT. It is very hard to understand at first but I'm going to state this in a very non condescending way. EHS has approximately 1300 students. That means if one student is playing his music too loud he can very well be warned although if the next day someone else plays their music to loud they will also be warned. I hope you see a trend? In essence all 1300 students can blast their music on separate occasions with out any major repercussions. Until one individual does it twice nothing is going to happen.

Also how do you find who's blasting their music?

Do you honestly think RA's are going to search 12 floors for loud music because you can't sleep?

That being said I in no way or form condemn bottle or can throwing from windows aside from that the residents of Clark street have to realize it is a College dorm and well like my 70 year old Philosophy teacher said. Life isn't fair.
May 6, 2011, 9:48 am
common sense from bay ridge says:
@Jon Bear: It's good to know that you don't condemn bottle throwers. Don't be late for you remedial writing class.
May 6, 2011, 10:30 am
St george resident from bk heights says:
and they never found the bottle thrower :)
March 7, 2012, 2:21 am
pineappleresident from Bk heights says:
dom g
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