City Council Bans Pinball [Update]

Dear officials from the City of Beacon, NY: You are stupid. (Update: OK, you are not that stupid).

Yes, stupid. Otherwise, how could anyone explain the reason behind the closure of the Retro Arcade Museum, a place whose only sin is to have some old pinball machines in it?

Actually, that's exactly the reason: The officials of the City of Beacon closed it after 18 months using an archaic law that declares pinball illegal. Why? Because machines can give you a free game, so that could be considered gambling.

Click to view

What is next, banning comic books because they are immoral? Perhaps rock'n'roll, because the devil can get into your body when you dance? Unbelievable.

If you are a Beacon resident, a New York State resident, or you just have a working brain over you shoulders, please write to the City of Beacon here. You can use this polite letter:

Subject: Save the Retro Arcade Museum

To the Beacon City Council:

I am writing to you today in protest of the closing of the Retro Arcade located at 412 Main Street. By choosing to follow the letter of an obscure and obsolete law you have committed an egregious violation of basic human rights. In what can only be the execution of some political agenda, Fred Bobrow's life's work and his very livelihood are at stake. In no way has his business had a negative effect on the area. Quite the opposite in fact, this establishment could bring revenue into your city in these troubled times. In today's world something like pinball being deemed illegal and dangerous is ridiculous. That this law is being enforced is utterly draconian. The public's eye is on you now. It is time to cut your losses. I respectfully urge you to repeal this ridiculous law quickly before it is too late to save this unique establishment.

Sincerely,
(your name here)

You can also join their Facebook group here.

Update: Apparently, the story is not as clear cut as CNN reported it. Beacon's Major argues that they didn't close the arcade because it had pinballs. They closed it because the residents and business filed complains about the noise:

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 ideas 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

Since I lived on top of a noisy place for a year—the dreadful Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg, full of retarded frat boys, city kids, and hipsters having dry sausages, stale fries, and beer—I can understand the complains and the closure. Let's just hope that they find a way to make pinball fans—like myself—and neighbors happy. [Crazyflipperfingers]