By Matt Youngfrau and Dan Hust
MONTICELLO March 30, 2001 A Monticello building owner, frustrated with a continuing drug trade in the area, has decided to take matters into his own hands.
Bethel resident Roy Howard, after saying he has received little satisfaction from the local law enforcement system, has placed a sign on his building at 50 Pleasant Street which reads "Recreational Drugs Available: 3 Minute Parking."
"There is drug dealing going on in that house," Howard remarked. "I stood outside the door and listened to drug deals take place. I have seen people park there and go in for two or three minutes. That is too short just to say, Hi."
Howard said he has attempted to get two of his tenants evicted, but the case has been tied up in court. One tenant owes him at least two months rent and the other owes him $9,000, Howard claimed. He has begun legal action against one resident, but that case will not make it to court until April 13 (moved up, though, from an original May date).
Howard has complained to police and Village of Monticello officials, but he feels they have offered little assistance.
They have taken notice, however. This week, Village Manager Richard Sush asked Howard to remove the sign from the building.
Im on good terms with Roy, said Sush yesterday. I think he made his point, and Ive asked him to remove the sign.
Howard, however, is steadfastly refusing to take the sign down until the tenants are out of the building, maintaining that sign enforcement is a subjective matter. He said one of the tenants has had signs in front of the building since last August advertising African oils. Since that time, the tenant has not been asked to remove the sign.
Sush, however, said the African oils sign was an issue before he became village manager. He added that all signs that are currently out of compliance with village ordinances including Howards, if it remains will be cited with a violation.
Howard claimed that he was told his sign needed to be removed because it was bad for the village and that the sign may compromise a possible criminal investigation (police would not tell Howard if an investigation was ongoing or not).
In an interview yesterday, Monticello Police Chief Michael Brennan said he had not been contacted by Roy Howard or his wife, Jeryl Abramson, regarding this matter.
As for drug use overall in the village, Brennan stated his group of 31 officers consistently make it a priority to curb the sale and use of illegal drugs within Monticello.
We have been pro-active enough to force drug dealers to move out of the village, he said.
Regarding a possible investigation into Howards tenants activities, Brennan said he could not comment on any investigation.
In the meantime, the sign stays, said Howard.
"I have not made my point yet," he commented. "My point will be made when the drug dealers are out of that house."
Howard is no stranger to drug use on his property, however. Each summer at the annual Woodstock celebration on his Bethel farm (originally owned by Woodstock legend Max Yasgur), police have arrested numerous people on drug abuse charges.
Howard defended himself by stating that he was the one who called the police on the drug dealers. He even stated that there will not be a celebration this year because of the drug deals that took place last year.