Everyone loves a good party, but when does a little celebration become an annoyance, or worse, a cause for disturbing the peace, infuriating neighbors or even forcing some to call the police?
Mineola resident Joe Bruno made such a complaint against the Portuguese Community Center on Jericho Turnpike, saying during the Oct. 2 meeting of the village board that when the center sets up a tent five to six times a year for an event, they bring “band equipment” that includes “4-ft high stands stacked with amps” to play loud live music during the outdoor barbecue and sometimes a DJ as well as busses of guests arriving on a Sunday as opposed to a typical crowd of 25 persons.
“You could fill a stadium when this thing starts cranking and it just escalates,” he said, adding that the sound was a constant over the weekend. “You don’t hear the noise, you feel it; literally people bunkering down.”
Bruno said that one neighbor had a noise meter that registered an eight – equivalent to a person shouting in one’s face – and that others have called police many times who have asked the center to turn down the music but has not done anything long-term.
“I just get the sense that the police think it’s a village issue,” he said.
Mayor Scott Strauss said that the police could take action on disturbing the peace but that the village “will reach out to them and I’ll speak to them about being a good neighbor,” later adding that the village is looking into a “viable” noise ordinance “that works for everybody but also one that’s enforceable.”
Founded in 1936, the Mineola Portuguese Club is the oldest Portuguese civic center on Long Island and the vast majority of its members are also residents of the village itself, but not all members are Portuguese or of Portuguese descent.
Gabriel Marques, who was authorized to speak on behalf of the club, said that the center does hold between three to five celebrations throughout the year on both American and Portuguese holidays, including Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July, and that there were “a few hundred” attendees per day.
Marques said that the club had written a letter to Strauss’s office about noise restrictions and how noise levels would be handled as well as conforming to all village regulations and requirements, including obtaining all necessary permits as well as stating that there was a 9 p.m. cut off time for music.
There “has never really been any change” and the music levels have been “held at the consistent standards throughout” celebrations, Marques said.
He also confirmed that officers from the Third Precinct had appeared during one of the events due to a complaint but said that the officers had determined via earshot that the sound level was to be acceptable and was not lowered.
“The club is always conscious of the Village of Mineola and will continue to work the the mayor and board to ensure 100 percent compliance with rules and regulations,” Marques said. “They are trying to do everything they can to be the best neighbors that they can.”
Regarding Bruno’s statements, Marques said that “as far a the club said it’s been the first time that he’s complained.”