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Dispute continues over summer partying at Amityville waterfront bar

Reggie DeFilippo, owner of Toomey's Tavern in Amityville,

Reggie DeFilippo, owner of Toomey's Tavern in Amityville, sits on the deck of the business on April 19, 2014. Amityville Village trustees in June 2015 tabled an application to renew the bar's cabaret license. Credit: Steve Pfost

A long-running dispute between the management of a waterfront bar in Amityville and some of its neighbors is once more threatening to end the bar's outdoor summer concerts.

Amityville Village trustees last week tabled an application by Toomey's Tavern owner Reggie DeFilippo to renew the cabaret license he needs to play live music this year after complaints from residents who live near the South Ketcham Avenue bar.

The complaints are largely the same as they've been in past years: excessive volume and patrons guzzling alcohol while ambling down dangerously clogged neighborhood streets. As many as 700 people flood the area when two other nearby establishments, a tavern and a yacht club, host events at the same time, one neighbor said.

"It's like having a block party in front of your house three nights a week all night long," said Mike Sterito. Another neighbor, who asked not to be named because he said Toomey's supporters yelled and threw beer cans on his lawn after a previous Newsday story, also complained at a June 8 village board meeting.

In an interview this week, DeFilippo said he was frustrated too -- but for a different reason. "This is turning into a witch hunt," he said. "At some point you say, 'The heck with it, you're making it impossible.' I can only bend so much."

The bar has added off-street parking this summer with more on the way, he said, and he's added four employees to patrol inside and outside. Regular volume checks conducted from the parking lot with a noise meter have never exceeded 82 decibels, he said, softer than a lawn mower. Music that once went on to 10 p.m. now stops by 7:45 p.m., a concession to the neighbors that he said has resulted in tens of thousands of dollars lost in business.

He said the neighbors' estimates of the number of weekend patrons were excessive. Toomey's, he said, has never had more than 150 guests at one time. If he actually drew the numbers the neighbors claimed, he added, "I'd be living in a mansion."

The South Ketcham Avenue neighborhood sits close but not directly on the Great South Bay, with homes in the north giving way to boatyards in the south as the land narrows into an isthmus. A nearby creek offers bay access for the boats that sometimes tie up near Toomey's.

Not all of the bar's neighbors object to the concerts. Marty Mosbacher, who owns Moss Marine repairs near the south tip of South Ketcham Avenue, said: "Some people want to turn Ketcham Avenue into a library. I don't."

Village Mayor James Wandell said Monday that trustees would likely return to the matter at their June 22 meeting and may impose more stipulations regarding noise level on the license renewal.

"These aren't perfect solutions," he said. "We have to find a workable solution for both sides."

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