A contentious Boston Licensing Board hearing on the future of Mary Ann's on Beacon Street ended with the board chairwoman agreeing to give the bar some time to develop a plan to address longstanding neighborhood concerns about everything from the bar's lack of windows to the young inebriates residents say pour out of the place at 2 a.m. and run roughshod over their lawns, yards and front steps.
One thing the board won't do, however, is roll back the bar's hours, at least not based on a series of incidents in recent months involving underaged patrons guzzling Naragansetts. Board Chairwoman Christine Pulgini agreed with Mary Ann's attorney, Louis Cassis, that the bar has already been punished fot the specific incidents - most recently eight days of suspension for two January incidents.
And Pulgini seemed to agree with Cassis that because the legal notice referred specifically to the bar's 2 a.m. closing time, she would discount testimony from residents, Boston Police and Boston College about what a horrible place Mary Ann's has been in general for as long as anybody can remember. She said she liked a proposal by Cassis to talk to the bar's owner - ill and not at the meeting - about coming up with some sort of mitigation plan.
Meanwhile, other Brighton bars shouldn't rest easy. Pulgini said that in coming months the board wants to look at issues at other nearby bars as well.
Residents among the roughly 35 people at the hearing at the Waterworks Museum were skeptical of anything good coming from Mary Ann's, because the city has been holding hearings on the place for almost as long as they've been complaining about it.
"It is A PIT!" a place that invites kids to do the sorts of things they would never dream of doing in front of their parents "or anybody else," John Freeman said.
Eva Webster said she found her feet sticking to the floor the one time she went in. She said "the stench was overwhelming" and that Mary Ann's is "the worst dive in Boston," a dank cave where BC students get their drunk on before they burst out at closing time to urinate and defecate in people's yards. Michael DeMarco, who lives on Orkney Road, said he's tired of the lawn urination and fights among BC kids coming out of the bar.
Mary Cronin, who also lives near the bar, said she doesn't object to the idea of a bar at that location, just the way Mary Ann's operates.
Thomas Keady, vice president of governmental affairs at Boston College, said he is as tired as residents of the problems caused by the bar and that the college stands with residents in seeking to roll back the bar's hours.
"They have violated the respect of the community, of the collage and of the neighborhood," he said. He said that when he and other BC officials meet on Monday morniungs to go over police reports from the weekend, Mary Ann's always generates more reports than any other bar in Brighton.
"It's our biggest problem bar where our students are involved," Bill Mills, BC's director of community affairs said, noting he was a frequent visitor to the bar in the years when he used to ride around Brighton with BPD offices on patrol on weekend nights.
Cassis and the bar manager and head bouncer, however, said the purchase of a new license scanner a month ago has dramatically increased the number of people being caught with fake out-of-state IDs - so much so the bar is once again letting people use non-Massachusetts driver's licenses as IDs.
The bouncer denied contentions by BC officials and police that kids - especially of the female variety - often get in without being carded. He said he cards everybody, period.
And the bar last fall moved to end one flashpoint by barring all BC football players, whom, bar managers said, seemed to like getting into fights.
Mills, however, said BC several years ago banned its athletes from the bar during their seasons because of problems there. Cassis retorted that hasn't stopped football players from walking over to the bar.
Part of Cassis's overall defense was that while Mary Ann's may be a pit, it's no worse a pit than other Brighton bars, and that any closing-time issues it might have are no worse than those in the clusters of bars around Faneuil Hall and in the Theater District. He said the two bars closest to Mary Anne's - which he declined to name - have actually racked up more police citations than his client.
Although Cassis questioned a BPD detective, a captain, a sergeant on their assertions that Mary Ann's causes more problems than other Brighton bars, he did not question any of the residents.
He told the board that while residents have a right to complain, he has no way to tell whether they're just making up all the stuff they claimed, legally, because he was not told such complaints would come up at the hearing and because police did not submit reports to back up their allegations. Referring to Webster's complaint about the stench, he said that had he known that would have been an issue, he could have found somebody to testify the place smelled just fine.