Photo credit: Wendy Wei from Pexels

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

In early July of this year, Ariel Palitz, New York City’s Nightlife Director, suggested a pilot project that would permit bars, taverns and restaurants to stay open 24 hours. I wrote in an earlier blog that criteria should be set up to evaluate this pilot project plus citizens living in the communities selected for the project should be part of the group designing and evaluating this pilot project.

Now CBS NewYork reports that New York City’s Nightlife Advisory Board has suggested that our public parks “should allow drinking and impromptu dance parties at certain locations, with regulations.”

With noise already a major New York City complaint, I understand why Jay Reisberg, a resident already living with park noise stated that “[i]f you want to turn it into a disco, you’ve got a lot of people who live around here including me, who really don’t need to hear that at night.” In response, the Advisory Board acknowledged that the proposal may not work in every community. Mayor DeBlasio was cited as not believing that laws should change for drinking in public.

While one can understand that this pandemic year has restricted many of our activities, including those of engaging with others publicly, we still need to be cautious about the ways we are planning to bring people together, provided COVID-19 and its variants are controlled. The Advisory Board, as CBS NewYork reports, wants New York City to consider “new ways to come together.”

I would like to know whether the Advisory Board, in their thinking about legalizing drinking in parks and allowing bars and taverns to operate 24 hours, has had sufficient input from New York City residents who are familiar with the adverse impacts of noise on sleep, household activities, and health. I would also ask how knowledgeable are the Advisory Board members of the effects of noise on health and well-being.