There's Trouble Brewing On Quail St - Part 1
It has been said that "The trouble with trouble is, it starts out as fun." Many of us know too well the reality of this statement through our own experiences with trouble. We often overlook the long term consequences for short term profit and pleasure.
This is exactly what is occurring on Quail St in Birdtown. The Lakewood Brew Works is currently in construction, scheduled to be open sometime later this year. As would be expected, the presentation was upbeat, upscale, and promising to a struggling economic reality in the Birdtown Area. The bar was spun as the next great step forward for the renaissance of the area. It would bring jobs, and money, and it would be a tourist destination for Northeast Ohio. Wow, this sounds like a winner, a no-brainer. And that is exactly what it is, a no-brainer. Not much thought was put into the effect of the location of this new bar, in respect to a church and a school being on the opposite corners of their location.
Two years ago, at the Lakewood City Planning Commission meetings, our church, as well as many caring citizens, spoke up about the reality of putting a bar so deep into the residential community here in Birdtown. (Look up "Another Birdbath in Birdtown" for more information)
The bar will be located within 50 feet of our church, and within 75 feet of Harrison Elementary School. It is interesting to note that the state allows Public Institutions, such as schools, churches, libraries, and townships, to object to the issuance of a liquor license if they are within 500 feet of the bar. This bar will only be a hop away, instead of a hop-skip and a jump.
While several of our citizens have spoken and attempted to address some concerns, the project continues on and is expanding already. The bar has been granted a 1500 square foot addition for an outdoor two-story deck. Nothing could go wrong there, I mean there won't be any noise issues at all in the middle of this residential neighborhood where the bar is.
Have all the issues been worked out? What are the issues? The biggest and most important issue is actually the location of where the bar is. All other concerns resonate from that premise.
Let's examine Issue #1: Traffic Flow and Increase
1.There will be an increased amount of traffic from those who will be frequenting the bar.
That traffic will be brought deeper into the residential neighborhood. Not just on Quail, but the surrounding streets, such as Plover, Robin, and Dowd. Since the bar is planning on opening at 4:00PM during the week, this will present a traffic flow problem for many who are returning home from work. How about the children who live in this community, who will be playing outside, riding their bikes, jumping curbs on their skateboards (Okay, I know they shouldn't do this, but they do, right?). Let's put on our thinking caps again, do you suppose that there will be an increase of those who have been drinking before driving? I'm not even saying that they are drunk, but scientific studies have shown that reflex skills and abilities are diminished with the use of alcohol and drugs in the system.
2.There will be an increase amount of vending and delivery trucks.
This will present a problem because the delivery trucks will be unable to park in the bar parking lot because it would never make the turn, especially with residents from the neighborhood's parked cars directly across from the parking lot entrance. So this means the delivery trucks will have to sit in the street and block any traffic from going down that part of the street because the street will be totally blocked until the delivery truck leaves. We have also been informed that deliveries are supposed to take place during non-school hours. What does that mean? A food or beverage delivery company is going to make special arrangements for this establishment? Does that mean all deliveries will be made before 7:00/7:30 in the morning before early care? Or after 5:00PM when aftercare is over?
Well this is where you have to use your brain, NO! They will be like every other bar or restaurant who gets their deliveries during the day. So this one is just to appease those who don't want to face the facts that large delivery trucks and beer trucks are going to be regularly driving right past the school when the young children are there and maybe even playing outside. You see, Quail St has some restrictions on which direction you can go during certain times of the day. You cannot go further south onto Quail after Thrush during school hours, thus requiring the delivery trucks to take another side street, go down to Plover, and come back up Quail and park in front of the bar to unload. The large trucks are probably not going to be able to turn off Thrush to get to Quail, in fact, with the parking situation in Birdtown being so congested, those trucks will have to go down to Plover because it will be too tight of a turn for them to make.
This is a bad location for this bar!
Let's Examine Issue #2: Parking
The city zoning ordinances require the bar to have somewhere around 35-37 parking spots for the capacity that they have proposed to be attempting to serve. The parking lot as it sits has 22 parking spots. They are building the two-tiered deck where the old garage and concrete pad were so they won't be able to add that space to count in their total. Let's put our thinking caps on again and use some common sense. There is a parking lot behind the stores on Madison, there is a parking lot at Harrison Elementary School, and there is parking on the street. Well, human nature says that we choose the path that is easiest and closest. That means the street parking will become even more congested and limited. So the many people who rent apartments and houses in the area will have to park their cars either further down or on another street and walk. Now that doesn't seem very fair to the residents who live here on Quail St, does it?
Does that present any safety issues for the residents of this community? I mean, you have to find nearly 13-15 more parking spots. Quail can only handle approximately 20-22 cars parked on the street anyway. The residents won't be allowed to park in Harrison Elementary School, and they will be forced out of their needed spots close to where they live.
And what if they use Harrison? How will that affect the evening events that go on at Harrison often. There are special meetings, such as Lakewood PTA meetings, open houses, basketball and other sporting events, school board meetings, etc. What happens to those who need to go to those meetings? Where do they get to park? There isn't enough parking now for when some of those larger events take place.
What will the parking lot look like after those who have frequented the bar leave for the night? Have you seen what happens at other bars in Lakewood? Ask those who have to clean up the outside of the building and sidewalks the next morning. The taxpayers of Lakewood have spent a great deal of their hard-earned money to create a better environment for the kids to grow and learn. It doesn't seem like it would be good stewardship of the investment to let that happen.
This is a bad location for the bar!
There are other issues that I think the no-brainer tag could be applied to. So stay tuned as we try to bring a little common sense back to the public arena, where it isn't always about politics and profits, but it is about doing the right thing when there is opportunity to do it.
This is a bad location for the bar! Stay tuned! There's more to come................
John Lutz is Pastor of the NorthCoast Baptist Church in Lakewood, Ohio.
Pastor of the NorthCoast Baptist Church in Lakewood, Ohio