May 14, 2010 9:47:00 AM
City officials have formed a committee and are crafting new rules to address concerns of violence and other problems at local nightclubs, in the wake of a deadly shooting at the Everyday Club and Lounge.
Located at 1603 Seventh Ave. N., the Everyday Club and Lounge Thursday stood vacant and silent, closed in the aftermath of the violence.
And nearby residents were pleased at the emptiness.
"My kids can''t come out and play, since I''ve been here," Lashonda Jordan, who has lived in apartments across from the club since August 2009, said, noting she was "glad" the club was closed. "It''s ridiculous ... Black, white, no matter. It''s ridiculous how people are acting."
Quentin Antonio "Que" Spencer, 20, of 455 Merry Valley Drive in Columbus, was killed in an April 20 shooting at the club, in which an unnamed suspect opened fire, also injuring three others.
Following the club shooting, Columbus Mayor Robert Smith and city officials formed an ad hoc committee -- comprised of Smith, Columbus Police Chief Joseph St. John, CPD officers, Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem, Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens, and owners and representatives of various clubs, including, Fuhggetaboutit, The Elks Club, Legends, The Grey Goose, and The Everyday Club and Lounge -- to address issues with clubs.
The committee will meet every three months and St. John said plans are in place to expand the committee to include the owners of more bars and nightclubs in Columbus.
St. John noted he also is working with City Attorney Jeff Turnage to develop city ordinances which are "business-friendly," yet address safety and quality-of-life concerns with local nightclubs.
"The primary purpose is for us to get ideas and suggestions from club and bar owners and for us, along with the (police) chief, to make suggestions of what we can do to eliminate some of the problems that have happened in the past," Smith explained, noting the committee first met shortly after the fatal shooting and Zoning Officer Kenny Weigel, along with a Columbus Fire Department fire marshal, are visiting clubs, checking for compliance with stipulated occupancy loads and fire safety regulations.
The committee also will be requesting bar owners sign agreements giving the CPD permission to "ride through" problem areas and warn loiterers and people engaged in potentially dangerous or problem behavior around the clubs for first offenses, with second offenders to be "picked up" by the CPD.
And "no loitering signs" will be placed on club buildings, Smith added.
"We''re trying to be proactive and preventative," he said.
Smith, who owns miltiple properties around town, owns the Everyday Club and Lounge building but didn''t have an interest in the business itself.
"I thought the idea of forming a committee about the clubs was a good one, because it gave us a relationship with the club owners to let them know if they''re abiding by all the laws and the things they''re supposed to do," said Karriem. "Now, the Everyday Lounge is closed. Hopefully, we can come up with some solutions that will better govern the clubs in the area and better ordinances agreeable to everybody and in the best interests of the public."
And he wants club and bar owners to know the city will be watching.
"We''re trying to be proactive as we address this situation," he said. "A lot of the club owners didn''t know even know about the ordinances already in place. (We want) to let them know if they don''t get into compliance with the ordinances already on the books, we are going to shut them down. We''re giving them the opportunity to get in order and talk about the things they think are necessary to keep their businesses open.
"The sad reality is we''re living in times where that incident could have happened in any place," he continued, referring to Spencer''s death. "The reason for the meeting is to make sure (club owners) are in compliance and to know if they''re not in compliance or don''t get in compliance, we have no recourse, but to shut them down."
Vernessa Pate, a three-month resident of an apartment across from the Everyday Club and Lounge, was not aware the club had been closed, but was relieved at the news.
"I think they should shut it down," she said. "It''s in the wrong place. We go to bed and they''re opening up. Nobody comes and empties the trash or nothing. It''s overcrowded out here and you''re trying to sleep and the club is opened up."
"It''s a bad club," said another neighbor, age 23, who identified himself only as "J. Money." "(This is) a community. They should have security in there. They''ve got to make their business, but they should have a security guard at the door.
"I feel for that boy and his parents," he said of Spencer, when told the club was closed. "Anyone could''ve gotten shot. Black folk, they kill their own kind, any kind, these days. And that''s not right. These folks know right from wrong, but they should leave the drugs alone. When I saw that boy got killed, I said in my mind, that bullet could''ve killed anybody. This is a neighborhood.
"That club right there, it''s dangerous," he said, pointing across Seventh Avenue North to the front entrance of the Everyday Club and Lounge, next to which garbage lay from an overfilled trash dumpster.
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