Unique Car Club is returning to the Chautauqua County Fairgrounds this summer, and Dunkirk Common Council members would like a change.
Councilors Natalie Luczkowiak and Nancy Nichols called this week for club owner Juan Rivera to move the shows further back into the grounds, more toward Brigham Road and away from Central Avenue. Rivera said he would accommodate the request.
A June 2021 show by the club caused a mini controversy. Dozens of citizens complained to city officials about loud music and car noises from the show. Nearby school graduation parties, and at least one wedding, were allegedly disrupted.
At first, it sounded like Dunkirk officials wanted to ban Rivera and his club from city property, with then-Councilman at Large Paul VanDenVouver declaring, “He’s done.” However, Rivera sat down with councilors and Police Chief David Ortolano and worked out a compromise where he promised no loud noises or any other disruptions. His club’s remaining 2021 shows went on without any apparent incidents.
The 2021 hubbub started when Rivera failed to get loudspeaker permits for his shows, although he technically did not need to get them as the fairgrounds is not city of Dunkirk property. However, citizens usually seek permits for private property party loudspeakers anyway as a neighborly gesture.
This time, Rivera sought permits for fairgrounds shows on Saturday and July 30. Each show is to be from 2 to 6 pm
“The one issue I want you to all be aware of on this is, when this initially came to me, it was a request for a DJ and a two-step competition. I didn’t know what that was,” Ortolano said.
“What I found out was, that is a contest where you rev your engine as loud as you can and see how many times you can backfire. Four hours of that, twice, I didn’t think was a good idea. So I had Clerk (Edwin) Ramos call them back and advise them that I would not approve that.”
The police chief added, “I was little taken aback that they tried to do that after we worked with them previously on the other issue… (Rivera) did agree not to do that, so we’ll keep an eye on it, hopefully they will stay with what they promised they will.”
Ramos said the two-step competition was supposed to be for half an hour, but in any event, “he was dissuaded on that and decided to pull it.”
The clerk said he would work with the club on anything the council wanted him to do, and suggested that audio speakers at the shows get directed in the direction of the Thruway and the berm next to it.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Rivera assured the council that he put the loudspeaker request in for a DJ, and plans no loud car noises.
“I know we’ve had our rough patches before. Stuff was miscommunicated and we got past it,” he added.
Rivera also wondered if he could have a two-step competition at the club’s third and final show of the season, which last year was held at Point Gratiot in September.
“I know the loudspeaker permit for the car audio is hard to get, because some cars are real, real, real loud,” he said. Rivera said he would do the competition in a small window of time and would welcome a police presence, even if they had to ticket people for noise violations.
He offered to get two club members to bring their vehicles inside the fairgrounds barn and “you guys could stand outside the barn, I will put those things as hard as they can hit and you can guys can tell me if it passes for you guys or if it’s gonna be too loud.”
“I think that’s a fair request, as long as we keep the lines of communication open. He’s working with the chief and with Edwin,” Councilman at Large David Damico said.