Sunday, February 21, 2010


WOW !!!

W O W  ! ! !

Talk about thieves in the night! 

On January 13, 2009 the Board of Trustees held a hearing about an application by the current owners of Heart of Portugal to open another restaurant at 68/70 Old Country Road between Geranium and Juniper Avenues.  There have been a number of eateries at this location over the years such as the Courtyard Latenite Cafe, and more recently Tucano's Bar & Grill.

One by one, residents of Geranium and Juniper Avenues spoke about the numerous problems they have encountered with the various restaurants that have come and gone.  Garbage on their lawns, drunken arguments, loud music, theft of personal property, and unknown cars blocking their driveways were just some of the complaints that were leveled.

The mayor recused himself from the hearing because he or a member of his family is now the owner of the building where this restaurant space is available.  (The precise ownership issue is a little fuzzy.)  And the petitioners were represented by Jack's former law partner Mr. Selva.  Cozy! 

As one of the complainants stated, this restaurant approval seemed to be a done deal.  The "doneness" test was passed when Trustee Cusato was shut down (as is the norm) when he questioned the plans for smoke ventilation because there didn't appear to be any on the specs the trustees were given to review.  (Imagine the nerve of a veteran volunteer firefighter questioning something like that!)

On the plus side, the new venue will be run by the same people whose Heart of Portugal Restaurant has been a staple on Mineola Boulevard for many years now.  It's a successful business with a good record in the neighborhood.  But this doesn't change the fact that there is limited parking at the proposed location and, based on the miserable history the local residents have experienced through the years, perhaps another restaurant is not the best use of this space on Old Country Road.

In any event, the matter was tabled for further discussion at a later date - presumably with another public hearing to be held before a final decision would be made (as has been the case with every other special use permit application).  Instead, the matter was brought up for a vote at the February 10th Work Session.  That's right.  The night of the most recent snowstorm that dumped 12+ inches on Mineola and environs.

Everybody was being encouraged to stay home.  Nobody would expect that the Board would actually go through with a work session under such circumstances, much less pass a resolution on a special use permit without allowing for more input from the public!  But the world is FULL of surprises and just when you think our Trustees can't sink any lower, they pull another fast one.  Thus, amid blizzard conditions our merry Band of Brothers hitched up their flying reindeer, piled into their magic sleigh and flew over to 155 Washington Avenue so they could approve the permit for Jack's new tenant.  To hell with any additional public commentary!

And so gentle readers, it appears that this was indeed "a done deal."  An open and shut case if you will.  They flew in, executed the deed, and flew out again.  Under cover of darkness and a blanket of snow.

Like thieves in the night.

Can't wait to see what the next storm brings . . . .