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Bumpy's closed Wednesday; Schenectady County moving to seek court-ordered shutdown

Bumpy's closed Wednesday; Schenectady County moving to seek court-ordered shutdown

Schenectady County says it didn't force closure yet; move follows protests, citations, arrests
Bumpy's closed Wednesday; Schenectady County moving to seek court-ordered shutdown
Bumpy's Polar Freeze is closed and quiet on Wednesday afternoon.
Photographer: Peter Barber/Gazette Photographer

SCHENECTADY — The upper State Street ice cream stand that protesters have been seeking to shut down in recent days was closed Wednesday.

The attorney for David Elmendorf, who has operated Bumpy’s Polar Freeze since 2012, did not return requests for comment Wednesday about the reason for the closure, but it wasn't an official action.

The business had been operating recently in violation of a shut-down order issued by the county, which will attempt to force a shutdown soon but did not orchestrate this one, the Schenectady County attorney said.

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The business at 2013 State St. is a local summertime landmark known for fast food, ice cream and a pool of bumper boats.

In recent days, Bumpy’s has gained fame for other reasons:

  • Citations against Elmendorf for operating without Health Department authorization since May 9, and for not securing a kitchen sink spray nozzle cited as a code violation in late 2019;
  • Elmendorf’s arrest June 24 on a charge of obstructing governmental administration (keeping the business open despite the shutdown order);
  • The request by Schenectady County that the state attorney general investigate alleged civil rights violations by Elmendorf;
  • The business was swarmed Sunday by protesters angered by those alleged civil rights violations — racist text messages purportedly sent by Elmendorf — and they succeeded in inducing three Black employees to quit on the spot;
  • The protests, organized by All of Us, a Schenectady group active in the Black Lives Matter movement, returned this week for additional confrontations with Elmendorf, and he was arrested Tuesday for allegedly pointing a pellet gun at them.

Schenectady County Attorney Chris Gardner said Wednesday that the county hasn’t moved to padlock Bumpy’s because its shut-down notice was an administrative order, lacking the authority of a court order.

The county very rarely has to go to court to shut a business down over a violation, he said — most business owners are eager to comply. (He has said Elmendorf could have fixed the spray nozzle, paid a $100 fine and ended the matter.)

Actually seeking a court ordered shutdown is a complicated request that needs to be done correctly, and he delayed it because key members of the Public Health Service were away for training last week.

“We will be moving forward with enforcement action,” Gardner said. “It’s not going to be going on forever like this.

“We’re trying to make sure we get everything done properly."

Elmendorf will get full benefit of due process in both the civil and criminal matters, he added.

Gardner and others have painted Elmendorf as someone who just won’t follow the rules:

  • He allegedly ignored a stop work order and demolished a former car wash without a permit to expand the Bumpy’s parking lot in 2017, city officials said at the time.
  • He publicly bad-mouthed the plan to put the new county DMV office across Shirley Street from Bumpy’s, then used its parking lot for a car show without permission, Gardner said.
  • He never followed through on his plan to buy the property and hasn’t paid rent since February, the previous operator (and still owner) of Bumpy’s, David Byrne, said last week from Florida.

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