All posts by Block Association

Back-story/Details Tonights 09/21/16 Meeting re MaryMount

Whether you are attending tonight’s meeting or not, please read this page.

6 PM, Wednesday, September 21, at MaryMount, 116 East 97th. St., New York, NY 10029,  Open meeting to hear MaryMount’s latest offer to “embrace” the community.


We added the height annotations to the above architects rendering.

The above “view” of MaryMount’s proposed 24*-story embrace of our block  is looking South-East from approximately 99th-100th St. and Madison Avenue.

The massive project will run through the block on 97th-98th, between Lexington and Park where MaryMount currently has a play field. As you can see it is at least fifty feet taller than Carnegie Hill Place at 1510 Lexington Ave., the 18-story, white building behind it and to the left, between 97th and 98th. Pity the renters in the back of 1510 who face West… and all the renters there can forget about those rooftop terrace amenities.

And of course it overshadows the Lexington Houses on 98th and 99th, and of course the residents of every 5 and 6-storey building on 97th will now be staring straight up at a massive wall.

And it will take at least 4 years to build.

* (They call it “13 stories” because a few floors are 2-3 stories high (the auditorium, the gym, and the chapel), but at 239 feet, it’s the equivalent of a 24 story building.

In the middle of the block… Through the block….

In this well-written and balanced article  by Jackson Chen here, you can see that MaryMount does have some zoning hurdles in order to gain approval for this project, and that there has already been strong opposition to the project at the Community Board Level.

 But the odds of whether it will be going through or will be stopped are still not clear.

As best we can tell, some of our local politicians oppose it because it sets a bad precedent for mid-block “noncommercial” high-rises, but they and the CB will be looking for input from the immediately affected community. That’s us. You. Me. Everyone who lives on this block.

Carnegie Hill Neighbors has been vocal in their opposition to the project,  as they have been seen up close the trend of Manhattan private schools to overwhelm their neighbors and neighborhoods with oversized expansions.

MaryMount will be appearing in front of the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals later this Fall; they will very much want our neighborhood’s support, and they want as little public opposition as possible.

Please forward and print this website page and the photo for your neighbors, and please come tonight if you can, and urge your neighbors to attend tonight’s meeting, and please sign up with us by email for future notices.

Most importantly, please think in terms of what you would expect from MaryMount in exchange for your and the block’s endorsement of four years of construction and disruption of our block, and for the permanent impact that their  24-story building will have upon our block.

Some starter ideas that have have been brought up include:

A/ Parking garage spaces for those street parking spots on 97th and 98th St. that will be lost temporarily during and permanently after the construction.

B/ Tutoring for children living on the block, and some annual scholarships for academically-qualified students living on the block.

C/ Auditorium access for cultural events created by residents/focused for the block (i.e., theater, dance and music performances, art exhibits…).

D/ Create a format for the school’s auditorium to become an alternative to the 92nd St. Y, with concerts, performances, and speakers open to the public, with seating discounts and ticket blocks made available for residents of the block.

(MaryMount to create an office to charge and take reservations for the events to pay for the extra security, ticket processing, etc. Students can get experience in theater production and event management…Hiring for theater management and production jobs would give precedence to those who live on the block).

E/ Weekend access to the gym for block residents. Charge a modest fee to cover security and maintenance. (Is there  going to be a pool?…)

F/ MaryMount student college-transcript-enhancement projects; students to do light social work for shut-in disabled and/or seniors living on the block. Do modest shopping, sitting and talking and “history-taking”,  talking with residents who are otherwise alone most or all of the week. Do a census of the block, including Lexington Houses to find out the need.

G/ Political and financial support for the neighborhood and for 97-98 Lexington and Park Avenue Neighbors, including:

(i) Marymount representatives showing up at Community Board 11 subcommittee and full CB meetings for issues related to the block (not just those related to MM’s zoning application).

(ii) Marymount showing up at 23rd Precinct Community Council monthly meetings, and actively coordinating with the 23rd Precinct on security for the block both during construction and after.

(iii) Marymount participating in the annual 23rd Precinct Summer Street Party.

(iv) A written and ongoing commitment to 97-98 Lexington and Park Avenue Neighbors and the Lexington Houses Residents Committee and to the community at large re;

MaryMount stepping up with a published agreement and public efforts to help preserve the residential nature of the block, including promises to attend relevant meetings and advise CB11 and the NY SLA of their opposition on our block to all backyard and rooftop commercial activity including bars, restaurants and coffee-shops,  as well as any new bars or license changes for bars offering live music and/or dancing.

(v) Re 9798 Lexington and Park Avenue Neighbors:

(a)  MaryMount funds 9798 LexPark’s application for non-profit status (to enable grant applications).

(b) MaryMount to fund an annual block party and an annual dinner, with proceeds to be split between Marymount scholarships for qualified block residents, and 9798 Lexington and Park Avenue Neighbors to cover expenses in continued organizing on other block-wide efforts.

What are your thoughts one the above ideas? If you have any comments and/or additional suggestions please post them in comments below, or email them to us at
(While you don’t have to live here to comment here, mentioning if you live on or off the block will help make your case…)
Remember: If you don’t stand up, you will be stood on.

NY SLA Denies Outdoor Beer & Wine Permit To Earl’s Beer and Cheese!


May 6, 2015

Short update, more to follow.

Late yesterday afternoon, the NY State Liquor Authority denied the application of Earl’s Beer and Cheese to serve beer and wine in their backyards, yards faced in by hundreds of residents in eleven walk-up buildings on the Western half of East 97th and 98th Streets, between Park and Lexington. That’s in the southern end of East Harlem. Or the northern end of the Upper East Side… aka us, 97-98 Lexington and Park Ave. Neighbors

(click to expand photo). Red arrows are all buildings with air-sound access to the proposed backyard beer joint.
(click to expand photo).
Red arrows are all buildings with air-sound access to the proposed backyard beer joint.

Towards the end of the NY SLA hearing, the attorney for Earl’s repeated previously-voiced threats that if they lost the hearing, the owner, Michael Cesari, will serve food-only in the backyards, 7 days a week.

In our humble opinion, given the overwhelming consensus of the SLA agreeing with the majority of the rear-window-facing neighbors who objected to Cesari (or anyone else!) doing any business in the residential backyards, Cesari will be doing this out of spite, and his customers should know about it.

Get ready… Continue reading NY SLA Denies Outdoor Beer & Wine Permit To Earl’s Beer and Cheese!

Fire hazard behind Earls?

Bad enough the owner of Earl’s Beer and Cheese is using the backyard as a construction site, building up his interior reno in the backyard (so he doesn’t disturb his customers inside with the work… the hell with all of us neighbors with our windows facing the yard, listening to him hammering away outside, day and night…).

According to his landlord earlier this afternoon, he has been told to stop.

Now he’s got his flammable material piled up adjacent to, and up against the rear wall of the very residential building he rents his storefront in. 

Picture taken 1845 pm 05/01/15
EarlsDebris EarlsDebris2
(Click on photos to enlarge)
I’m no expert, but surely this is unsafe.


The last (and 3rd) hearing for Earl’s application (to invade 3 backyards with 60 beer drinking, fried-cheese-eating, noisemakers outside over a hundred of our neighbors’ bedroom windows) was postponed, and the next one is at 10 AM, Tue. May 5, 2015. Address and details below.

We hope you can make it, let us know if you are coming, and if you can’t come, you should be able to watch it live and/or after the hearing here:

backyard caption(Click on photo to enlarge)

If you haven’t signed our petitions PLEASE CONTACT US ASAP (see the Contact Us links on this website); either way, contact us for more information on how you can help 100’s of your neighbors preserve peace and quiet outside their walk-up apartments’ windows.

If you plan to attend this hearing, please let us know ahead of time. And please sign up for updates by email and via this web page.

The meeting is at:

Zone 1 Harlem Center Tower Office Building
317 Lenox Avenue
New York, NY 10027
Entrance to the Main Lobby is located on Lenox Avenue near 126th Street.

It is requested that any additional materials to be presented for the Members’ consideration for matters already scheduled, be submitted only to the Secretary’s Office by noon on the Friday prior to the Board meeting.

Send materials to:

New York State Liquor Authority
Secretary’s Office
80 South Swan Street, Suite 900
Albany, New York 12210

It is further requested that a copy of any additional materials pertaining to licensing matters, be simultaneously forwarded to the Deputy Commissioner of Licensing Kerri O’Brien at the Albany office location when the materials are submitted to the Secretary’s Office.

For more information, contact Secretary’s Office:
Phone: (518) 474-3114

Earls’s Tuesday 01/27/15 SLA meeting POSTPONED to 02/10/15

The hearing has been moved to Tuesday 02/10/15, 10 AM. “Watch this space...”

REVISED 05/06/15: Resident-Focused Policies For Backyard/Rooftop/Sidewalk Bars

REVISED 05/06/15 Resident-Focused Policies For Backyard/Rooftop/Sidewalk Bars

Attention CB11M, & CB11M Licenses & Permits Committee
re: revising the Application process for outdoor, sidewalk or rooftop bar & restaurant expansions.

This document is available as a PDF on request: contact

Community Board 11M’s Licensing & Permits Committee is in the midst of revising their application process for bars trying to open or expand into residential backyards & rooftops. They briefly discussed it at the last two meetings, & we are hoping to help them come up with new procedures ASAP, before any more blocks are disrupted by outdoor bars & restaurants that ruin the lives of those who live above & next to them.

Because the previous L&P Chairwoman recently moved to another Committee, last winters’ CB11M L&P meetings never had a chance to get started on

“a. Committee discussion on establishing a review procedures
ii. Liquor Licenses in rear yards & roof tops”

The new Chair has stated he is interested in the process but has not yet added the above to his agenda yet.

Our suggestions are at least partially due to the ongoing noise & friction raised during our community’s battle to stop Earl’s Beer & Cheese from expanding into 3 adjacent backyards. Visit for the details on that issue. We hope to avoid a repeat situation, similar to the contentious fights over Earls, where our block association had to attend 4 NY SA hearings before prevailing, & we pray that the Chair starts this review as soon a possible.

We are leaning very strongly to opposing all commercial & entertainment-type development in NYC residential backyards, with or without liquor, but in the interim, if these proposals are at least reviewed & taken into consideration and some are implemented, we are open to the CB’s serious revision of the process.

Currently the CB11M L&P committee requires a semi-detailed application, as well as posting on the door of the bar & “200 feet” from the establishment only SEVEN DAYS ahead of the hearing, & require “circulated petitions of support”; these latter vague & short-date requirements giving neighbors virtually no notice to find out the hours, details of operation (i.e., HOW LOUD, HOW LARGE ARE THE NEW CROWDS), to show their support or opposition, etc. And in the past, even that minimum posting requirement has been ignored.

Being grateful that the CB11M Licensing Committee has, on their own, suggested requiring more affected residents’ approval for future bar expansions, we have created a set of modest suggestions for how CB11M can revise their application process.

We hope this could become a city-wide issue to help both renters & residential property owners stop the noise & the lessening of the quality of life outside their rear windows, & on their street-side of their blocks as well.
Continue reading REVISED 05/06/15: Resident-Focused Policies For Backyard/Rooftop/Sidewalk Bars

“They Might As Well Brick Up Our Windows!” Recording of SLA Hearing.

Below are links to video and audio recordings of the Dec. 10, 2014 NY State Liquor Authority hearing, where we opposed Earl’s Beer and Cheese’s application to put a noisy beer garden into 3 backyards surrounded by hundreds of residents.

We are trying to do a transcript (any volunteers?) but in the meanwhile, you can watch and listen to the video here on your computer*, (scroll down on the page that pops up to Agenda item 8 and click on “Earl’s” Beer and Cheese”), or you can listen to just the audio by clicking here (the audio for our hearing starts at 41:38).

(Some neighbors reported they could not get the video to play on an ipad or iphone, but we have tested and it played fine on both PC and Mac; anyone with an Android / Windows phone, please let us know if the video plays).

At the end of the hearing you will hear Earl’s attorney asking for a holdover to 12/30/14 so they can do noise studies from apartments surrounding the backyards. Go here please to see the update on that issue.

If you agree with and support our efforts to stop businesses from destroying our peace and quiet in NYC backyards, please:

Sign up below for our mailing list, and please sign up in the upper right corner of any page to follow this website for new articles and posts.

Follow and retweet us on Twitter @9798LexPark;

Print out pages for your neighbors who have no internet, and forward our website URL to your neighbors and anyone in NYC interested in this issue;

Make sure you contact your local politicians on this issue, and any donation, even a few dollars to help with postage would be appreciated here.

UPDATED SCHEDULE: Results of 12/10/14 SLA Hearing re Earls’ Expansion


MARK YOUR CALENDERS!: The next SLA hearing is currently scheduled for 10 AM, 12/30/14, has been RESCHEDULED for TUESDAY, JANUARY 27th @ 10 AM, at 317 Lenox Ave., off 126th Street. If you can attend, or help gather more petition signatures and/or letters to go to the NY State Liquor Authority, please click here to contact us.

YardTrue3(Click on image to expand)

On Wednesday morning on Dec. 10, we attended the NY State Liquor Authority Hearing (SLA) hearing for Earl’s expansion plans into the shared backyards (see photo above) between 97th and 98th St, behind Park Ave.

(For background on this issue, please go here or scroll below to our earlier posts or contact us for further detail).

Opponents of the expansion will be pleased to hear that the SLA Commissioners noted the many dozens of letters in opposition that  they received from neighbors surrounding the backyards, as well as the above and additional photos in our 27 page Opposition Document.

We were also allowed to orally present our main objections, as well give statements in response after Earls’ attorney spoke. At the end of the somewhat contentious hearing, the SLA Commissioners were not going to give Earl’s the approval for the backyard expansion as their plans currently stood.

The SLA Chair and other Commissioners were repeatedly noting (a) the backyard space is very small and will echo all noise right into the surrounding homes,, that (b) Earl’s had presented no real suggestions / attempts to even consider how to reduce the noise to the surrounding neighbors, (c) the SLA was  very conscious of the letters from many seniors citizens, some dealing with illness, but all who have lived there for decades whose quality of life would be severely affected even if the backyard was open only during the day on weekends; and as the SLA Chair pointed out,  he also received letters  from hard working people whose apartments face in to the backyards, who depend on the weekend for their 1-2 days of undisturbed quiet and rest.

When it became clear the SLA was not going to approve the expansion into the backyards, Earl’s attorney asked for the hearing to be “held over” so they could get an architect and /or acoustical engineer to to visit some surrounding homes (!), and measure the level of noise that would come from the backyards into the apartments surrounding the backyards.

PLEASE ADVISE US ASAP BY PHONE OR EMAIL IF YOU ARE CONTACTED BY EARLS or any of their representatives for this noise study, as we want to make sure it is done fairly and accurately.

MARK YOUR CALENDERS!: The next SLA hearing is currently scheduled for 10 AM, 12/30/14, has been RESCHEDULED for TUESDAY, JANUARY 27th @ 10 AM, at 317 Lenox Ave., off 126th Street. If you can attend, or help gather more petition signatures and/or letters to go to the NY State Liquor Authority, please click here to contact us.

Before the SLA hearing ended, we also noted there were discrepancies between what Earl’s had put on their application to the SLA vs what they were discussing/proposing  that morning i.e., their application mentions 60 seats, the CB11M resolution also says 60 seats outdoors, but Earl’s diagram shows only and Earl’s attorney only mention 20 seats. (But as the SLA chair noted, even 20 people drinking and eating in that narrow yard would echo insanely into the surrounding apartments).

We also noted  that the hearing for the SLA violation of “sales to minors” for the liquor store Vinyl (on Lexington between 96 & 97th, (co-owned by one of the owners of Earl’s) will not occur until January 8, 2015, and that the SLA should take that into account as to the co-owner’s fitness to operate and/or expand another bar.

We also pointed out that we discovered only that morning that Ed Santos (CB11M Treasurer and former Chair of the CB11M Licensing Committee who seemed to be doing much of the heavy lifting / shepherding of Earl’s through the CB11M hearings), received two interesting campaign contributions when he recently ran for City Council.

One campaign donation to Santos’ campaign was from Michael Cesari, co-owner of Earl’s Beer and Cheese, the other from Adam Clark, FORMER co-owner of Earl’s Beer and Cheese and current co-owner of Suds and Sports, AKA CrossTown Tavern , AKA Guthries, in the same building as Earl’s, at 1259 Park Ave., which, we also pointed out, Earl’s denied acknowledging on their expansion application to the SLA.

(Stay tuned on this issue as Suds and Sports, AKA CrossTown Tavern , AKA Guthries  is trying to expand THEIR interior space right next to Earls. If you are already bothered by their customers smoking, drinking and chattering under your windows on Park Avenue, wait till they triple or quadruple their capacity…)

The bottom line? We scored a small but important victory, their expansion has not been approved, but we still need to keep reaching out to neighbors for their signatures on petitions, letters to the SLA (see below for address/email / fax #s) and we need more email and/or phone contact info from interested neighbors.

IF YOU HAVE READ THIS FAR and haven’t yet signed up to follow this website, please scroll to the top or bottom of this page and please sign up to follow new posts on this website; we will NOT give out your email address to anyone, its only to save us printing postage to keep you informed of issues important to the block.

Likewise for social media: please follow us on twitter at @9798LexPark, (and if you are a Facebook wizard, we need your help ( : >))

If you can be a “point person” in your building and we have not yet spoken or met, PLEASE reach out to us so you can help us help you, help your neighbors, and help the block. For starters,




If you need us to fax for you, call us and we will arrange to fax for you.

Mail to:

NY State Liquor Authority
ATTN: Ms. Cyndee O’Brien
Admin. Aide to the Secretary
80 South Swan Street, Suite 900
Albany, NY  12210

Telephone: 518-474-3114 option 4 – 1
Email: Cynthia.O’

(If you have school-age children and/or seniors with health issues living in an apartment facing these backyards, please contact us before writing to the SLA).

Finally, if  you can, please please click here to donate anything at all, even a few dollars to help us pay for postage and paper and toner. So far, neighbors in two buildings have been kind enough to pay for initial costs to start this up, but to keep going, we need your and your neighbor’s support.

Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

– JF

If you want to maintain some semblance of residential peace and quiet in this neighborhood, please sign up bellow for email alerts on this and other issues relevant for those who live and/or work in or around 97th and 98th Street, Park to Lexington Avenues. (we will NEVER sell or give away your contact info).

URGENT: Wednesday Dec. 10 State Liquor Authority Meeting

Regarding Earl’s Beer and Cheese backyard expansion:

The NY State Liquor Authority will hold a hearing in Harlem, on Wednesday, December 10, on whether to approve or deny a license for Earl’s to put a sixty seat, non-soundproofed beer garden in our backyards.


Date: December 10th, 10 AM.

Location: NY State Liquor Authority’s at 317 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY. (125th Street).

You and all neighbors who oppose a bar in their backyards must show up and explain how and why the expansion will ruin your quality of life, and ask the SLA to deny Earls expansion application unless they fully enclose and soundproof their outdoor bar.]


Subject: New York RW 1270518 – Earls Beer & Cheese LLC

Please be advised that on December 10, 2014 the above referenced alteration application will be before the Members of the Authority for determination.

Meetings of the Members of the Authority are open to the public and you may speak regarding the application.

If you have any supplemental material you wish the Members to review, it must be received in Secretary’s Office no later than noon on December 4, 2014, in order to afford time for the Members to review.  Documents can be sent to the address listed above, emailed to or faxed to 518.402.2304.  Any material received after December 4, 2014 may not be considered, please refrain from bringing new materials to the Members the day of the meeting.

The meeting of December 10, 2014, will be held at the New York State Liquor Authority’s New York City office at 317 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY. 

Video conferencing will also be available at the Alfred E. Smith Building at 80 South Swan Street, Suite 900, Albany, NY and at the Authority’s Buffalo office, Iskalo Electric Tower Building at 535 Washington Street, Suite 303, Buffalo, New York.

You may appear at any of the three locations.  The meeting starts promptly at 10:00 a.m and is also webcast live on the Authority’s website: .

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Secretary’s Office at 518.474.3114.

Cyndee O’Brien

Admin. Aide to the Secretary

80 South Swan Street, Suite 900

Albany, NY  12210

Telephone: 518-474-3114 option 4 – 1

Fascimilie: 518-402-2304

Email: Cynthia.O’


URGENT – CB meeting Wed. 12/3! + SLA letters details

Very Urgent re Earls Beer & Cheese in the backyards:

Dear Neighbor:

The Community Board 11 Licensing Committee meeting is tomorrow night at 6 PM, Wed. Dec. 3, and they have 2 very important items on their agenda, and we need as many neighbors there as possible.


Date: 6 PM, Wed. Dec. 3

Location: Board Office, 1664 Park Avenue, (117th -118th St.)


1. Liquor Licenses

d. Suds & Spirits d/b/a Crosstown Tavern. Application for Alteration of existing OP Full Liquor License at 1259 Park Avenue, North Store, to expand inside premises for more seating.

4. New Business

a. Committee discussion on establishing a review procedures

ii. Liquor Licenses in rear yards and roof tops

Please talk with your neighbors about this and please get to the Community Board tomorrow at 6 PM.

We must attend the above CB meeting tomorrow to oppose the expansion of “Suds” aka The Guthrie Inn, as they will (a) bring crowds of more drunks and smokers outside our front windows on the sidewalks in front of the bar and around the surrounding corners, and (b) they will eventually try to go into the backyards with Earls.

(Hat tip, JS).

We also must demand:

that the Community Board requires and accepts more input from neighbors on applications for backyards.

that the Community Board visit not just the applicants location but visit apartments in every building that face the applicants proposed yards and test for themselves how much can be heard from the yards in the apartments.

that applicants must hire acoustic engineers, and that unless the applications for the expansions show that they are fully sound proofed and fully enclosed, THE APPLICATIONS MUST BE DENIED.

that no Community Board Members may speak on or vote on bar applications if they are customers of that establishment.


Regarding the letters to the (State Liquor Authority) SLA against Earls expansion into the backyards:

If you sent yours already, thank you for the good work. If you haven’t, the deadline is noon Thursday, Dec. 4th.  The contact info is below.


If you need us to fax for you, call us and we will arrange  fax for you.

Notice also below, there WILL be a full SLA hearing for Earls “in front of the Members of the Authority” on Wed., Dec 10, in Harlem.

See next article for more details.


If you have an email address, please write to us so you can be added to our email list. We will not give out your email address to anyone.