By Ron Leir
EAST NEWARK –
Maybe the next step is re-enacting Prohibition.
Still trying to bottle up the tide of violations from the two remaining taverns in the borough, East Newark is hoping that the most recent disciplinary actions meted out will ring in a “last call” for wayward behavior.
Last month, fed up with a steady stream of quality of life complaints from neighbors of the Ambatenita Bar and Restaurant on N. Third St., the Borough Council found the licensee guilty of various ABC charges filed in August and September and imposed a one-year suspension of the bar’s license.
The licensee, represented by Newark attorney Fausto Simoes, appealed the penalty to the state ABC panel and on Dec. 14 the council voted to approve a settlement agreement that, essentially, puts the bar on a six-month probation.
Under that agreement, if it can document any violation between now and June 30, 2012, the borough has the right to shut down the place for six months, with five days notice to the owner. Examples of violations include “urinating in public, lewdness, fighting, loud music, disturbing the peace or loitering.”
In the meantime, Ambatenita must comply with the following provisions:
It must close at 10:00 p.m., Sunday through Wednesday each week, and “turn the music down at 9:00 p.m.” on those days. (Normal closing time is 2:00 a.m.)
For the rest of the week and on holidays, it can close at 2:00 a.m. but must “turn the music down” at midnight on those days.
It must install one security light in front of the bar and another security light with motion detector in the bar’s alleyway.
It must hire a security guard “to keep patrons from congregating and making noise when outside the premises.” No more than four people can be outside the bar Thursday through Saturday each week and on holidays; a limit of two is allowed Sunday through Wednesday each week.
No patrons are permitted in the bar’s alleyway.
The licensee must pay the state a fine in lieu of a 30-day suspension.
Additionally, the bar had to agree to a 10-day closing, Monday through Friday, for two consecutive weeks, which began Dec. 12. That penalty has been served, according to borough officials.
Borough Police Chief Ken Sheehan said the Police Department would continue to monitor the situation at Ambatenita and at Alex’s on Second St. where similar quality of life issues have arisen, the most recent on the evening of Oct. 23 when police responded to a call about a fight.
According to police reports, a patron hit a 28-year-old borough resident in the head with a beer bottle. As the fighting escalated, several patrons came outside and one of them, later identified as Jason Paramo, 21, of Bloomfield, allegedly sliced the 28-year-old in the face with a knife. Paramo was charged with aggravated assault, attempt to cause bodily injury and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. He was released pending court action.
Subsequent to the incident, Borough Attorney Neil Marotta served Alex’s owners, Juana and Marcio Solorzano, of East Newark, with violation notices for permitting fighting inside the residence and creating a public nuisance. The owners agreed to the imposition of a 10-day suspension from Dec. 14 to 24, Sheehan said.
“We’re going to keep a close watch on all establishments in the borough which serve or sell alcohol,” the chief said.
In other public safety news, the borough governing body voted Dec. 14 to hire a new police officer to replace Officer Carlos Cabrera, who resigned last month to accept a job with the Newark Fire Department.
The new cop is Gilbert Torres, 32, a longtime borough resident and a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves who served in Iraq.
A 1997 alumnus of St. Benedict’s Prep, Newark, Torres enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 2000 and, during that time, enrolled in Kean University. He was called to active duty in 2002 to Camp Lejuene, N.C. In Feb. 2003 he was recalled to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom in An Nasiriyh, Iraq, for five months.
Torres graduated from Kean in 2007 with a B.A. in criminal justice . Then, in 2008, he and his brother Mauricio Torres, also a Marine and East Newark resident, were called to serve in Akashat, Iraq, in the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, as an integrating unit to help Iraqis become self-sufficient and to patrol the Syrian border.
During that deployment, Torres’ daughter, Jadia Victoria Torres, was born on Feb. 14, 2009. His wife, Jannette Diaz, is a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Nursing.
After completing his military service obligations, Torres worked in private security and also at Tops Diner as a host.
“I’m very grateful to (Tops owners) Van and Jimmy Golemis,” Torres said. “They helped me get back on my feet after my discharge from the service. I am also very thankful to Mayor (Joseph) Smith and the Borough Council, my father Jaime Torres and my family for their endless support and I’m proud to serve the Borough of East Newark.”
Torres will have to complete six months training at the Union County Police Academy in Scotch Plains before beginning his duties as an East Newark police officer, Sheehan said.
“It’s an ideal situation when you can find someone with his kind of experience who was raised in East Newark, who’s bilingual, and everyone raves about his work ethic,” Mayor Smith said.
The Borough Council also voted to retain Michael Cifelli, a Lyndhurst attorney who serves as the borough’s municipal prosecutor, as a special counsel to represent East Newark in a court case involving Alma Realty Corp., of Astoria, N.Y., the owners of the old Clark Thread factory complex on Passaic Ave.
The borough has alleged that Alma Realty, the designated redeveloper of the property, has failed to fix certain fire code violations in the complex and both sides are due back in Municipal Court on Jan. 3.
Cifelli will get $135 an hour, with a cap of $7,500 for his labors.
Smith said that Cifelli will replace Edgewater attorney Thomas Wall, previously hired as special counsel in the case. It was felt that Cifelli, a specialist in civil defense litigation, would be a better choice than Wall, whose specialty is business law, Smith said.
Alma Realty, which has proposed converting the old factory into rental apartments, may be asking the court to transfer the case to another legal jurisdiction.