A celebration and re-signing of the Tavern Owners Agreement, marking its 15th anniversary, was held on Tuesday, March 25 in College Terrace.
The Tavern Owners Association members re-signed the updated agreement, which was established in 1999 by college, town and village officials. The goal of the agreement is to encourage tavern customers to engage in the responsible and legal use of alcohol, while conducting themselves in a respectful manner.
Associate Dean of Students Robin Cohen-La Valle said Associate Vice President of Student Affiars Ray Schwarz’s words from the inaugural press conference still hold today and have been executed for the last 15 years.
“It is not a cure-all and we are not saying we will never see an intoxicated individual walk down the streets of New Paltz or across our campus,” Schwarz said. “However, if this work prevents one life from being tragically lost in a car crash or violently derailed by an assault, then all of our efforts have been worthwhile. I believe that if the spirit of this contract is maintained then it will have impact on more students and community members then we will ever know.”
Michael Beck, president of the New Paltz Tavern Owners Association and the owner of P&G’s, said during the creation of the original agreement the tavern owners were more concerned about the potential concessions to their business, but that their opinions have now changed.
“Over the last 15 years we gained perspective in our responsibility for the safety and well-being of our customers, while in our establishments and after they leave,” Beck said.
Beck also said the servers at the taverns are Training and Intervention Procedures certified, which allows them to be more knowledgeable and responsible regarding the sale and service of alcohol.
Town Supervisor Susan Zimet said the tavern owners’ willingness to abide by the agreement shows they understand their role in the community and the impact it then has on the police, taxpayers and safety of the students and children in the community.
SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian said the school takes its roles in supporting initiatives that benefit students, as well as the town of New Paltz, very seriously. He said these partnerships are an important part of civility and safety in the community.
New Paltz Police Chief Joe Synder said he was a detective prior to the signing of the agreement in 1999, and saw firsthand how something needed to be done.
“Communication has been the key for our community to be as successful as we are now, and I don’t see that ending soon,” Synder said.
The taverns will now post “Respectful Community” signs to remind customers to act with courtesy toward their fellow community members and “Think Before That Last Drink” posters, Cohen La-Valle said.
She also said starting this semester, any student whose “disorderly behavior is addressed by town police” will receive a letter from her saying they can be charged through the campus judicial process.
Currently, Cohen La-Valle said the college is using “One Less” alcohol prevention workshops and poster campaign to encourage students to have one less drink per drinking occasion and to drink one less occasion per week. The goal of this campaign is to increase students’ grade point averages, improve students’ health and to help students manage their money.