Town vs. gown! Locals battle Clark Street ‘animal house’

Town vs. gown! Locals battle Clark Street ‘animal house’
Community Newspaper Group / Gary Buiso

Rowdy students at a Brooklyn Heights dormitory are turning leafy Clark Street into a recurring scene from “Animal House”— and it has irked residents so badly that the owner of the building has vowed to take unprecedented security measures to curb the boozy behavior.

Residents say students at the dorm inside the former Hotel St. George near Henry Street have that “can-do” spirit — and that’s not a good thing, with reports of undergrads hurling soda and water bottles and containers of yogurt at unsuspecting passersby, a dangerous complement to the uproarious behavior outside the dorm.

“We get the worst of it,” according to Clark Street resident Kendra Stanchfield, who said she hears students cursing and playing loud music in the wee hours of weekday nights. “They’re just kids — but for this neighborhood, it’s not what you expect.”

Neighbor Julia Sommer agreed: “It’s quite loud. It affects my sleep, and sometimes, in the middle of the night, there will be some screaming from somebody who comes home drunk, and it wakes you up.”

And walking down the street can be hazardous — to your tailoring bill.

“One time, they threw a yogurt, and it came very close to hitting me,” said Heights resident Peter Myers.

And it has been a site of recurring problems for the past 14 years — ever since the students moved into the grand building, which was once the largest hotel in the city, and where part of “The Godfather” was filmed.

“This has been going on for years,” said Clark Street resident Andrew McKeon. “This has been a systemic problem since it’s been a dorm.”

Residents have been urging the dorm to do more — and officials say they are taking the complaints seriously.

A student suspected in one of the can-hurling incidents has been evicted, said Christy Gaiti-Chatfield, vice president of student life for Educational Housing Services, the non-profit company that manages the dorm, which includes 1,300 students from about 12 area colleges.

She said surveillance cameras would soon be installed on rooftops across the street from the dorm, at a cost of close to $10,000. The dorm also has a paid staffer stationed outside the building on weekends, and is inspecting every room to ensure that window guards are in place.

“I’m embarrassed by the students’ behavior — but it’s a small minority who are just unfortunately acting out,” she said. “We want to be an asset to the neighborhood, not a detriment.”

Deputy Inspector Mark DiPaolo, commanding officer of the 84th Precinct, said a community affairs officer recently met with officials at the dorm. He said he was not aware of any injuries related to the rowdy behavior.

And area merchants are on board, too, saying students looking to fuel their revels can’t do so locally.

“They try,” said Cesar Moneda of Michael Towne Wine & Spirits on Clark Street. “We’re not giving liquor to underage college kids,” he vowed, pointing to a wall plastered with confiscated fake IDs.

Students downplayed the rowdy reports, explaining that it’s only a small handful of students causing a ruckus.

“A lot of it is people are bored and want something to complain about,” said Pace University student Elliot Palatnik.

Still, he conceded that there are some in the building who are at fault. “They’re known to have been using certain drugs that are illegal,” he said.

Pace student Anton Landauer agreed. “There’s a select amount of people that are noisy, and then there’s people that are not,” he said. “I can sleep normal, I’ve never woken up from it.”