Guest Blogger: Kim Skorka
At the July 16th council meeting Carla Braswell spent 5 minutes during her HBP report making claims about me that border on defamation of character. Go to 16:45 here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/50179297
She claims that I am “harassing” Havana. Rita, the manager of Havana, made similar claims during the public portion. Go to 24:20 here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/50180732
Carla spent over five minutes trashing me yet I was only allowed two minutes during the public portion to voice my side. I was unfairly denied extra time. I did not ask the council to allow me to speak open-ended, I asked to speak for 3 to 5 minutes. The council can absolutely grant me extra time but they refused to do so. Go to 33:32 here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/50180732
I thank the Highlands Blog for allowing me to an opportunity for rebuttal. Since Carla spoke first, I’ll start with her. I understand that as head of the HBP her interests lie with the businesses and not the residents. That is counter productive. The HBP should be working towards an amicable resolution and continue the mediation rather than add fuel to the fire. Carla and Ralphie (owner of Havana) came to my house once, on June 8th. I never met with either of them before or after that date. It took two years for this meeting to happen and it was only at newly elected Councilman Doug Card’s suggestion. She has been aware of my complaints for years and never once thought, “Gee, maybe I should talk to her and work this out for the benefit of the business.”
At that meeting on June 8th Ralphie told me that if there was ever a problem to come talk to him. There have been weekends when I’ve been home when the music is too loud. I’ve gone and talked to Ralphie or Rita in his absence and politely asked to have the music lowered and ask for the below suggestions to be considered. I did what Havana asked me to do (come talk) and it’s still “harassment.” It seems Carla forgot or wasn’t paying attention when Ralphie and I had that exchange.
I did send a letter to Dreamer (the band). I did ask if they would consider turning their speakers. I got a very pleasant reply that they would try a few things the next time they were there. If they did, none worked. I asked Ralphie and Rita if they would consider having the bands turn their speakers away from Shore Drive. It is a small change that could go a long way. Ralphie told me he would ask, Rita flat out told me “no.” I asked Rita if it was possible for the band to set up with their backs to Shore Drive and was told “no.” I can only assume they don’t have extension cords and the means to cover them to prevent tripping.
While Carla claims Havana is trying (emphasis mine) to be nice, I have been patient and suggesting multiple solutions since the spring when Councilwoman Tara Ryan offered to mediate. Even though I’ve been dealing with the volume issue for two years I have NEVER asked for the bar to be closed, for the music to stop, for them to no longer have live music, etc. I have never asked anyone not to patronize the restaurant. I want Havana to be successful. I do not want another vacancy in our town. But I also wish they would be respectful of their neighbors.
They bought a restaurant (not a nightclub) in the middle of a residential neighborhood and fail to see a problem when I can hear the music above the TV in my living room with my windows shut. Imagine trying to sleep though that. This issue would have been resolved months ago if they would just turn the volume down. Not off…just down. There are plenty of restaurants in residential areas that are successful on the strength of their food and beverage sales without having to offer unnecessarily loud entertainment that affects their neighbors’ quality of life and property value. Why can’t Havana figure it out? Why won’t the HBP help them reach that goal?
I will take their claims of filing reports at face value. If the prosecutor’s office was called and a complaint filed with the Highlands PD I was unaware. No one has contacted me from either department regarding this issue. I welcome the opportunity to present my side.
I don’t know why I’m the only one complaining. I’m sure people have a myriad of reasons not to call the police. Friends on Ocean Avenue say they can hear it, friends on Barberie hear it occasionally, friends on Rogers Street can hear it, and even someone in Eastpointe can hear it. I am the only one that has bothered to take action. Perhaps it’s the acoustics of the condo buildings in relation to the speakers, maybe my neighbors have better windows than me. Maybe they go out if the music is too bothersome, maybe they don’t realize how loud it is because they live down the street, behind the speakers.
About calling Monmouth County: it was not a threat. It was a head’s up that I’m taking further action again. Since the Highlands noise ordinance is subjective (not decibel levels) it is not in compliance with the State Noise Control Act. If the town can’t or won’t enforce the NJ NCA the county health department can and will. The NJ Noise Control Act allows for 65 decibels from 7am until 10pm and 50 decibels from 10pm – 7am. Rita is correct that the last time the county was out that Havana was found to be in compliance, but it was just barely. They were over 50 decibels after 10pm but reduced the volume before the reading was complete.
I’d like to finish by stating that I will not be intimidated by these repeated claims of “harassment” from either Havana or Carla Braswell.
Threats of the prosecutor’s office and police reports will not deter me. I stand by my statement that the music is too loud for me to peaceably enjoy my home. I continue to welcome legitimate efforts to mediate the situation.