A Babylon Village pizzeria owner is asking the village board for permission to stay open until 3 a.m. on weekends to serve the after-bar crowd, but trustees say vandalism by partyers has caused thousands of dollars in damage to village property.
“How many baskets have been pulled down, garbage cans pulled out, street signs turn upside down?” Mayor Ralph Scordino asked at a hearing earlier this month. “We spent $10,000, at least, for planters and garbage cans and we just had to order another 10 because they’re in such disrepair we’re embarrassed to have them out on the street.”
Roughly two dozen bars, restaurants and cafes clustered around Main Street and Deer Park Avenue have helped turn Babylon’s downtown business district into one of the most successful on Long Island’s South Shore, aided by easy access to the Long Island Rail Road station, the last stop on the Babylon line.
Most of the restaurants close by midnight, some as early as 10 p.m. But most of the bars stay open hours later.
Gino’s Pizza, a village staple for decades, is on Deer Park Avenue, between most of the bars and the LIRR station. “There’s a lot of people coming to Babylon because of the night life,” said owner Keith Dahmen at a June 14 public hearing. “I think it’s a business opportunity. They put something in their belly, grab a soda and sober up before they go home.”
Gino’s serves a $2.53 Neapolitan slice. It does not serve alcohol, and Dahmen told trustees he would hire bouncers to watch over late-night customers, who can number in the hundreds over the course of a busy night.
His current agreement with the village allows him to stay open until midnight Friday and 11:30 p.m. Saturday, though he conceded he had — inadvertently, he said — violated it by staying open until 4 a.m. for months in late 2015 and earlier this year.
But trustees are wary of any formal change in the hours that could contribute to late-night problems. “We have a lot of vandalism in the village,” said Scordino, who said he has begun asking for Sunday morning damage reports from his superintendent of public works, Skip Gardner.
Fights and alcohol are often involved in the three or four rescue calls the Babylon Village Fire Department answers every week, Trustee Tony Davida said.
Trustees are also protective of the village’s picturesque image, one they work hard to cultivate. The village plans to spend $104,000 this year on its greenhouse, where employees grow municipal flowers for planting throughout the village.
A civic group, the Babylon Beautification Society, spends thousands more on items like holiday lights and the frequently victimized hanging baskets.
Scordino said the board could make a decision at its work session on Tuesday.
In an interview at his pizzeria earlier this month, Dahmen said he understood the trustees’ uneasiness and would respect their decision, but that it would have little effect on his potential customers: “They’re here already, whether I’m open or not.”