Written by Rich Forestano Wednesday, 23 April 2014 00:00
The Village of New Hyde Park held off on its decision regarding the possible reopening of the Angry Gnome Pub. New Hyde Park resident John Murnane is looking to reestablish the bar and its two upstairs apartments at 1217 Jericho Tpke.
The pub was devastated because of Hurricane Sandy two years ago. According to village officials, tenants were using “alternative means of heat and air conditioning” which caused a fire in October 2012 after the storm, resulting in two deaths.
“It’s a neighborhood bar,” said Murnane. “It’s been a fixture in New Hyde Park for a long time.”
The storefront has been vacant since the fire. Murnane bought the building in February.
“The applicant is seeking approval to repair a fire-damaged two-story building,” Mayor Robert Lofaro said. “We’ll wait to hear back from the Nassau County Planning Commission.”
If approved, the bar will be revamped and “brought up to speed” by Murnane. He couldn’t pinpoint operating hours, but indicated it would be open until 4 a.m. if approved.
“We’re going to be refinishing the walls and the interior as well as work on the roof,” said Laura Coletti of IMPACT Architecture. “It will have more of a country look. There will be sound-proofing between the floors.”
Kurt Langjahr of New Hyde Park was concerned with noise pollution. He happens to be Town Village Aircraft Noise Abatement Committee community liaison, an appointed position he has held since 1993. While the bar won’t be screeching airplanes near Jericho
Turnpike airspace, Langjahr remains skeptical of the Angry Gnome’s return.
“There are neighbors directly behind the bar,” he said. “If the bar uses the backyard, it’ll be unfair to residents.”
Murnane said he’d be willing to discuss an 11 p.m. cut-off of backyard usage by the bar. Lofaro wanted it in writing.
“Can there be a requirement or some covenant that says the building’s rear would be off limits after that time? It’s a reasonable request,” said Lofaro.
The second floor dwellings were altered into one apartment with four bedrooms, illegally by a previous owner, according to village officials. Coletti says the apartment would be made into two living spaces with a one bedroom and two bedroom apartment. The rent would be $1,100 and $1,450 respectively.
“Upstairs was dangerous and unsafe,” trustee Rich Coppolla said. “We don’t want that again.”
Murnane feels two apartments would work better.
“It’ll stop people from subletting rooms out to cover costs,” he said. “I own other rental properties. We’re very diligent in screening who we allow to live there with credit checks and such.”
Deputy Mayor Lawrence Montreuil questioned enforcing the split apartments.
“There was an overcrowding situation,” he said. “I’m wondering how [Murnane] can enforce it. The village tried very hard to enforce it and every two years, the building department surveys apartments in the village and there is subdivision going on illegally.”