There's Trouble Brewing On Quail St - Part 2
In the honest pursuit of the truth, sometimes the details of a particular circumstance are not absolutely factual, but actually just perceptions of a previously known or assumed fact. I want to start this second article by correcting some of the elements of my first article in the last issue of the Lakewood Observer entitled “There’s Trouble Brewing on Quail St - Part 1." First of all, I incorrectly reported that the name of the bar was going to be the Lakewood Brew Works, but it is actually going to be named the Birdtown Brewery according to their Facebook page. Secondly, I stated that the project was approved by the City Planning Commission two years ago, but in actuality it is closer to almost 4 years ago. I am sorry that I incorrectly stated those facts, which was done out of simply thinking I remembered the facts that way. Unfortunately, when things like this happen, it often takes away from the central message that is being presented, which is...
This Is a Bad Location for a Bar!
So with that, let’s remind ourselves of the issues that were considered in the last article I wrote. We talked about the issue of the increased traffic flow that will be in the midst of the Birdtown neighborhood, and how it will congest the roads and potentially endanger the children who live and play in it. Secondly, we presented the argument that there will be increased delivery and vending trucks that will have to drive up and down the side streets both during school hours and after school lets out. Due to the one-way street that Quail is designated to be during certain hours, it will cause those large trucks to have to constantly drive past the school and then park on Quail St. to unload their deliveries, thus blocking the street.
We then discussed the third issue, and one of the most important to those who live and work in this neighborhood, which is parking. The City Codified Ordinances regarding parking in the city show there were specific changes made to the law in January of 2015 that will enable both the bar and the city to dance around the important issue of the missing parking spots that are needed for them to open. You can go to (http://www.conwaygreene.com/lakewood.htm) and look under section 1143 of the Legal Code and you can see all the hoops that are being jumped through to make this happen.
Let's move on to the next issue: Issue #5: Safety
Does anyone actually think that bringing a bar back into the middle of a residential neighborhood is not going to increase the potential for crime? At the initial hearing on the matter back in 2014, this project was compared to a current bar in Tremont called “The Treehouse" which has been owned in part by the same owner of this bar in Birdtown. We have been told that it is very similar in regards to the proximity of the school and church and since it works there it will work here. The only problem with that analogy is that it’s simply not true. The distance between the bar, the church and the school down the street is much further than this one will be. Also, the street that it is located on is basically more of a main street similar to Franklin, not a side street in the middle of family-owned homes. The Treehouse has not been without its problems, as well as other bars in that neighborhood. Why, even this past December there was an incident where the bar was robbed of some of its liquor when a delivery was being dropped off for the bar. Back in 1999, there was even a shooting that occurred due to an attempted robbery which resulted in the death of the teenage boy who was trying to rob the bar. What if someone has that idea again and that happens here? What about the potential harm this could cause to the children as they walk to and from Harrison Elementary School? I'm not trying to fearmonger, I’m trying to show you what a bad idea this is to put a bar in this location.
Some have argued that since there were bars in the Birdtown neighborhood before, such as The Robin Tavern, that it would be the same as it was before. The only problem with that logic is that it isn't anything like the bars that used to be in homes in Birdtown. They were little Mom and Pop bars that only had a few seats and a very small number of villagers who all worked together that would stop in. Certainly, they weren't a tourist destination for Northeast Ohio as this one is being sold as today.
Why is there not a 500 foot buffer zone that is required for a bar to be in proximity of a school, or church like there is for tattoo parlors and medical marijuana dispensaries here in Lakewood? In recent years, there have been changes to long-standing precedents regarding these industries, but times are changing and so is the need to both protect the community and find a way to allow the proposed industries to exist. I would contest that there has been much more violence and crime associated with bars than with tattoo parlors and marijuana dispensaries.
This is a bad location for a bar!
Issue #6: Church
I have intentionally waited to discuss this issue as to avoid sounding self-serving. But the fact remains that this will directly impact our church. As many churches in Lakewood do, we have several nights of the week that we gather together for services and events. Since we are in the middle of Quail St, and in a building that does not have its own parking lot, we rely on the generosity of the school to allow us parking use at the school. Both our church and St. Nicholas, also on Quail St, have received permission by the school to park there as long as it doesn't interfere with their events. We are very grateful to them for accommodating both of our churches. The main question is this, Would you want to have a bar within approximately 50 feet of your church?
One thing I have learned about this beloved Lakewood is that it seems to house a lot of bars and churches. In 2004, when we started NorthCoast Baptist Church in Lakewood, there were 36 different denominations and gatherings around the city meeting together. I was amazed that there were so many for such a small geographical area. What that told me was, that many of our Lakewood residents are church-going people. They have a basic respect for God and spiritual things. How does putting a bar so close in proximity of a church help the churchgoing people of Lakewood? What would you think about having to walk past a bar every time on your way to church? How would it affect the services?
I've heard that the ownership group has refuted the notion that there will be live music and they do not know where that idea came from. Well it comes from the fact that they are already doing that in many of their other bars. That is something they enjoy having for their patrons at the bar. I understand it, but now I will have to contend with music going on from the bar, in conflict with with hymns and special music that is traditionally a part of church worship.
As I write this final article about this bar, we are just a couple days away from St. Patrick's Day. Many local news stations and outlets are giving out the locations of the bars where you can get a jump on your green beer and festivities. Next year, St. Patrick's Day falls on Sunday. This ownership group has two locations already listed as being open early on St. Patrick's Day, one at 7AM and, yes, the Treehouse at 10AM. So next year, our people will have the pleasure of walking past all the people who are already drunk by the time our church doors would be open for our morning worship service. It really is a shame that this is even a possibility to occur because of the location of this bar. It is shameful that the city would put the excitement of having a bar in a old Catholic church building, over the hurt and hindrance it will be to our Birdtown community. This is a bad location for the bar!
In closing, what can we do?
You can do a lot. Later this year, the owner of the bar will apply for a liquor license. Only the local government and public institutions can object to the issuance of the license.
You can go to onelakewood.com and email, write or call Lakewood City Council Members and Mayor Michael P. Summers' office and tell them to move the location of this bar to a better location for everyone.
You can go to lakewoodcityschools.org/board and email, write or call your local school board members and current School Superintendent and tell them to object to the issuance of the liquor license and speak up for the families of the Birdtown area.
You can go to the city council meetings and school board meetings and let your voice be heard.
This is a bad location for a bar!
John Lutz is the Pastor of NorthCoast Baptist Church in Lakewood, Ohio.
Pastor of the NorthCoast Baptist Church in Lakewood, Ohio