Last call Guttenberg council adopts new closing time at bars

In unanimous fashion, the Guttenberg Town Council adopted an ordinance last Monday night that changes the closing time of the town’s bars, taverns and other alcohol-serving establishments from 3 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The new closing time goes into effect at 2 a.m. this Tuesday, Feb. 3.

Guttenberg Mayor David Delle Donna said that all of the town’s 16 bar and tavern owners were given notification of the final council meeting to discuss the matter Monday night, but no one chose to show up and voice their opinions on the change.

“I was a little surprised that no one showed up,” Delle Donna said. “I didn’t expect much resistance, but no one voiced an opinion at all, not even a resident. Maybe everyone knew that our minds were made up beforehand, which they were. But it’s pretty hard to debate the merits of staying open the extra hour. I’m not sure whether anyone could have stood up and given a viable argument for staying open.”

Delle Donna said that Guttenberg police officers were busy hand-delivering letters informing the business owners of the new time change. The new closing time hours will be strictly enforced beginning Tuesday morning.

“I think this is the best and easiest way to combat the problems we’ve had at our bars and taverns,” Delle Donna said. “There are many things we could have tried, but closing at 2 a.m. is the best solution.”

Delle Donna said that he tried to speak to all of the tavern owners in the town, but only four made appointments to speak with him.

“I also think that they are aware of the kinds of things that have been going on in and around the bars late at night,” Delle Donna said. “They all know it’s not worth it to have the extra business for an extra hour, with all the incidents we’ve had.”

Delle Donna first introduced the idea to the council and the bar owners late last year and vowed he would take all the necessary steps to change the closing time as early as possible in 2004.

There were several incidents at neighborhood taverns during 2003, including two stabbings in November in West New York, where the perpetrators confessed to be drinking after hours in a Guttenberg bar prior to committing the crimes.

“I explained to them that in the past year, we have not been efficient in cutting down on the random bar crimes and incidents,” Delle Donna said. “We investigated to find out that many of the incidents took place after one or two a.m. We don’t want to hurt businesses, but our first and foremost concern is to protect the peace and tranquility of the town.”

Delle Donna said that he felt sorry for the businesses that never cause problems and never have incidents.

“It’s unfortunate for those, because they never give us trouble,” Delle Donna said. “But you can’t have different times for those. The number of those who never give us trouble is shrinking. We really looked into this. It was not a rash decision. We had to do this. This is just another step in the process of trying to stop the problems we have related to the bars. We’ve been working at it for a long time. It’s certainly been a battle. But this will definitely go a long way to stop some of the things that have been associated with the bars. I think this shows the bar owners where we stand.”

Guttenberg now has the same closing time as neighboring West New York, Union City and Weehawken. Other Hudson County municipalities, like Jersey City, North Bergen and Hoboken close at 3 a.m., although in some cases the doors shut to new patrons at 2 a.m.

“Hopefully, this will have a positive effect on the community and cause less problems for our police department in the future,” Delle Donna said.


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