Dialogue between residents and bars?

Not tonight.

I thought I might be on my way to a pretty good meeting tonight. Kevin Hayhurst, co-owner of Brian’s Ivy Hall, a place that has come up a lot in the discussion about issues downtown, tried to host a meeting tonight between residents and bar owners.

Here’s what he said in his invitation.

Kevin and co-owner Eric Finn; Nick Petrakos, from the Blue Shamrock; the co-owners of the Village Smokehouse, and the owner of the Amae Asian Fusion Restaurant all came to the meeting. So did one Lowell resident from South Lowell. So did Lowell attorney Michael Zaim.

No one else did.

The guy from South Lowell left pretty quickly since the meeting was clearly going nowhere.

Hayhurst, Petrakos and the guys from the Smokehouse have been mainstays at the meetings between bar owners and residents that Police Superintendent Kenneth Lavallee has held quarterly over the course of the last two or three years. They’ve held discussions with residents before, listened to complaints, and responded, so I thought this discussion might be productive.

Residents, bar owners and Lavallee haven’t met since last Summer, though, and they certainly didn’t meet tonight. The Lowell Downtown Neighborhood Association even rebroadcast the invitation via the association’s Facebook page, but not a single downtown resident came.

I did get to ask Hayhurst for some of his ideas for curbing violence and disorder.

1. This first came up during discussions held between Hayhurst, other bar owners, and residents. It is for bar owners to start maintaining a sort of “black list” of people who cause trouble downtown.

When this idea came up at a meeting between residents and bar owners this Summer, Lavallee questioned whether it would be legal and suggested looking into the matter and how it could be achieved in a legal manner.

I hadn’t heard anything about it since, but last night Hayhurst said bar owners have been talking amongst themselves and may try to organize this on their own. If people get thrown out of bars or arrested for disorder offenses, the bar owners could seek no trespassing orders that would prevent these people from entering any downtown bars participating in the program.

The idea would be to keep the trouble makers from coming downtown to drink.

2. Hayhurst thinks one of the issues that makes crowds more aggressive at the end of the night is the way they’re pushed out of bars. Everyone has to be out of the bar at 2 a.m., which means if last call is at 1:45, everyone is rushed out the door at the last minute.

See above for an example of people being dispersed from a bar at the end of the night.

Hayhurst thinks it might solve a lot of problems to just have last call, shut off all the music, stop all entertainment, and let people wander out of the bar at their own pace, instead of being pushed out.

“I think it would make for a less aggressive crowd,” he said.

3. Hayhurst also agrees with a suggestion made by Lowell Downtown Neighborhood Association president Kathleen Marcin several months ago, that lighting be improved around Lee Street, Paige Street and John Street, where there have been several violent incidents.

I haven’t spoken to anyone who disagrees with this suggestion, and City Manager Lynch told me tonight that the city is looking to work with private property owners in that area to implement the suggestion, since most of the lights are on private property. He said the city is also looking to help by adding more lights.

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6 responses to “Dialogue between residents and bars?

  1. Unfortunately, I heard that this meeting was going to occur, but didn’t know when. I would have attended. My wife and I are downtown residents who care very much about what happens in our neighborhood. The current situation, with violence occurring more or less every weekend, is unacceptable, and is setting Lowell’s image back years. I’ve already had several friends from surrounding towns questioning if it was safe to visit downtown restaurants and events in the evening. I hope that bar owners, residents, and the remarkably clueless Licensing Commission can work together to solve this worsening problem. If not, maybe it will be time to consider an earlier closing time, and if that adversely affects some bars, so be it. I imagine Lowell could survive with fewer bars. Lowell is on its way to becoming known far and wide as the place to go and get hammered and where no one will care. I just hope that a solution will be found before a cop or citizen gets seriously injured or worse.

  2. On who’s part?

    Bar owners have been attending similar meetings, quarterly, for over three years now. The Lowell Police Department kept sign-in sheets showing who attended.

  3. Easy, make last call at 1:00 or 1:15. Patrons can stay in the bar until 2, but ultimately people will leave when they finish their drinks.

    1. Everyone drinks at different speeds and will leave at different times knowing they won’t be served again.

    2. Time forces people to use the restroom since that last drink is most of the way through your body.

    3. People are not chugging a drink between 145-2am and possibly over drinking since they don’t wan’t to leave liquid behind.

    4. Public puking and urination will be reduced since over drinking will be curtailed and patrons have time to use the restroom.

    5. No pushing and shoving matches on the way out the door means less chance for drunk aggravated people.

    6. ???

    7. Sit back and enjoy the downtown again!

    Too little too late? Not really. You are always responsible for your own behavior.

  4. Why is this “spike” of violence in downtown turning heads? Have we finally had enough and vow to change Lowell? This spike seems more like a media tangent, taking a bigger interest in the ugly face of downtown night life. Its bad now? Wasn’t it always kind of rough in downtown?

    Can we actually admit, the concentration of bars in this small area is just a melting pot for trouble. Keep people in your bar for a bit, let them gather themselves before herding them out to the streets…I believe this trouble is on the police to fix, its to easy to pull the bars and resturants in this, yes, they almost fuel the fire, but, the violence is occuring on the streets..where were the patrols?

  5. I wish i knew about this meeting. Maybe posting about it further ahead of time (perhaps in the paper, bars, or ask the apartment building managers to post it?) would lead to more residents coming.

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