Resolution to extend bar hours fails

Neil Kessler

The Macomb City Council voted 4-2 to leave closing bar hours at 1 a.m. for the rest of the spring semester Monday night at its regular meeting.”What is the standard we want to set in the community? Do we look at that extra hour of opening as a desirable or undesirable standard?” John Maguire, 3rd Ward alderman, said. “I am just not compelled to change the community standard.” Maguire’s view was not unanimous.

“It is not a matter of community standard in my mind. It is a matter of representing the people of my ward,” John Conrad, 7th Ward alderman, said.

According to Conrad, the people he had heard from agree with him that the number of late night parties is down.

Alderman William Murphy stressed to the council that the fall semester was the quietest he had ever seen.

Conrad and Murphy supported the extension of the hours to 2 a.m. for the spring semester with the stipulation that more data would be gathered to determine if the extended hour was actually the cause for the decline in neighborhood parties.

Aldermen Jim Chambers, Jaynne Mason, Marliyn Eck and Maguire did not agree. “I am not convinced that letting the bars stay open longer is what really contributed to the lesser parties. It could be the caliber of students, weather, more police enforcement, fines and a whole lot of things,” Mason, 2nd Ward alderman, said.

Wilbur’s Mill bar owner Roger Ward favored the 2 a.m. closing. “The way I see it this affects basically three entities: one, my customer; two, the people in the community that live around the university; and three, the police department.”

His customers, he added, enjoyed the extra hour. People around the university felt this semester was a quiet one, and the numbers from the police department show no significant increase in parties after the bars closed.

“Keep in mind that the purpose of this is not to cut back on alcohol consumption. It was not to cut back on police calls, and it was not to cut back on emergency room calls. It was certainly not to improve the bar business. The reason we did this was to cut down on the parties in our neighborhoods,” Murphy said.

The Macomb Police Department and the McDonough County Hospital were surveyed at the end of the experiment in order to evaluate possible results.

According to a written statement to the council by Macomb Police Chief Steven Williams, “Lt. Fitzgerald, night shift watch commander, reports that after the first few weeks, the crowds appeared to begin their patronage later in the evening and stay until the 2 a.m. closing. He also reports that this fall, the large party problems in the neighborhoods were very minimal compared to previous years.”

“I think that it is a dead issue at this particular point. You head the 4-2 (vote) at this particular time. So unless the composition of the council changes in the near future, I think that it is a dead issue,” Conrad said.