City of Beacon, NY, enforces archaic law outlawing pinball, closes retro arcade

Pusher says: "Many American cities once passed laws outlawing pinball machines. Who knew? The city of Beacon, NY, still has its own law on the books and recently decided to enforce it, closing down a beloved retro arcade museum which had seen nothing but positive press in its all-too-short 18-month life span. Check out the CNN video to hear the mayor of Beacon explain that the legislative process is long and complicated. There's a Facebook protest page here." (Submitterated by Pusher)

UPDATE: The mayor of Beacon says the real issue is about noise complaints. Read his statement after the jump.

Steve Gold statement (Via):

I understand the frustration people are all feeling about the retro-arcade business but take a step back and think for one minute. The CNN story was bogus and misguided. It totally hyped the emotional side of the story and left out the real reasons for the closure and challenges in re-writing the law.

The issue is noise and only noise. The business next to the arcade and the residents above it had a legitimate complaint about NOISE. The owner changed his business model from one that was legal to one that was not permitted. A complaint was filed with the building department. Should the City of Beacon ignore the complaints from its businesses and residents and allow an illegal operation to continue? Which laws do you suggest we enforce and which shall we ignore? There are always two sides to a story and two groups ready to complain.

I am a huge supporter of the retro-arcade business. I think it is great for Beacon's Main Street economy. I helped the owner to try to keep the business open but in the end when complaints are filed the law must be enforced. Meanwhile, according to the arcade owner, the landlord of the building took several actions and intended to deny a renewal of the lease - claiming that other tenants were disturbed by the noise.

Knowing his business was at stake I tried to act quickly. My next step was to change the ordinance to allow a vintage arcade to operate without causing problems to adjacent businesses. I made phone calls to help him to relocate. I had the city planner rewrite the ordinance to allow the council to give it special permission to operate (a special use permit). The council worked to find a way to allow any vintage arcade business to operate without opening the door to other problems identified by other municipalities in their laws, and to protect the adjacent businesses and apartments from noise impacts. We also had to protect the arcade business owner from being closed down again a second time due to frivolous or malicious complaints. We rejected ides such as making the room sound proof and ended up leaving it to the business owner to reduce the noise in any way he wanted. Enforcement would be objectified by a decibel meter reading taken at adjacent unites.

I am sure if you lived above a business that had constant pinging sounds you would want the city council to protect your quality of life. I am also sure if you owned a business you would want the municipality to write laws that would protect your right to stay in business (like the arcade owner). Well to get all of this right, it sometimes takes time.

We all hope we can resolve this quickly so this very fascinating and beneficial business can open again.

Steve Gold, mayor