Auto-owners bringing their Maximas and Muranos in for service at Auburndale’s Star Nissan service center were privy to a spectacle last week as City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) stopped by to confront management on a litany of quality-of-life complaints neighbors have registered against the company — and ended up delivering a verbal lashing that left employees slack-jawed.
Teddy Neofitos, the body shop manager at the center on 172nd Street, said that when Halloran first showed up about two weeks earlier yelling about open doors and off-hour deliveries, he assumed he was an irate customer screaming at employees.
So when the councilman came in again last week, Neofitos took out his phone and shot a video of the riled Republican.
“I’m not f---ing joking,” Halloran can be heard saying as a car alarm sounds in the background. “Either these doors stay closed, top to bottom, all the f---ing time, or we’re going to have a problem! This is the last time we have this conversation!”
Halloran has said he inherited about a dozen boxes from former Councilman Tony Avella and former state Sen. Frank Padavan filled with 10 years’ worth of complaints from neighboring residents, which run the gamut from noise complaints to violating its certificate of occupancy to early morning deliveries.
He said he shot video of garage doors being left open, emitting noise from the shop inside and had received complaints about deliveries being made at 4 a.m.
Service Manager Elliot Rothman, who received the direct brunt of the councilman’s anger on two occasions, said that all garage doors, except the one in the front of the service center, are automatic and close about 30 seconds after a vehicle passes through.
He said the door Halloran taped as being open was new and malfunctioning but has since been repaired, and that deliveries are not accepted until 7 a.m.
Rhea O’Gorman, president of the Station Road Civic Association, said her neighborhood’s relationship with the service center has been “acrimonious” for a decade and that her chief complaint is the noise emitted through open doors, especially during the summer.
“Fixing the noise would go a long way to making it a tenable relationship,” she said.
Halloran told TimesLedger Newspapers that he has made Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) aware of the issue and had set a deadline of Nov. 15 for all the center’s doors to remain closed while not in use.
If Star Nissan does not comply, he said, he would schedule a news conference outside the building with city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
Rothman said all the doors were in working order but that the front door needed to remain open for the 60 to 100 cars the busy station services each day.
“It’s our main entrance. We have to let people in. We have no way of knowing whether or not they’re out there,” he said.
Rothman said the center employs about 200 people and that it was hypocritical of Halloran, who says he supports small businesses, to come in and scream at employees.
“Our main concern was that he was venting and cursing out our employees. You can’t do that,” he said.
O’Gorman said she understood the councilman’s frustration but that the community’s outrage should be directed at the Koufakis family, which owns the company.
“They’re trying to pit the neighbors against the workers,” she said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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