Policy may banish rowdy bar patrons


Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 11:05 p.m.

Rowdy patrons of bars and restaurants may soon find themselves without a place to party as downtown business owners are considering a policy that would essentially ban patrons from all downtown drinking establishments for a year if they get involved in violence.

"We want to send a clear message that if you're a troublemaker, we don't want you down here," said Ken McGurn, a local property owner who is best known for developing Union Street Station downtown.

McGurn said he has already received practically unanimous support from downtown business and property owners for the policy, which would result in patrons who cause trouble at downtown establishments to be barred from potentially all the downtown businesses for one year. Businesses that want to be included in the list need only sign up for the program, and McGurn said everyone he has spoken with is in favor of the policy.

McGurn said the policy will be discussed and voted on today at 4:30 p.m. at the board of directors meeting of the Gainesville Downtown Owners and Tenants Inc.

"We're all ready to have it and start signing people up," McGurn said. "It could be happening immediately."

Capt. Lonnie Scott with the Gainesville Police Department said a similar policy is already in effect along SW 13th Street but it is primarily geared toward preventing prostitution at the hotels in that area.

Scott said he expects the emphasis downtown will be to prevent violence, including starting fights or bringing weapons into the area.

"We don't need that type of behavior down there, and I think we're going to have most, if not all, of these businesses participate," Scott said. "If you realize that if you get involved in a fight that you could lose your privileges of visiting these establishments, it may cause you to rethink some of this behavior."

Alice Wallace can be reached at 352-338-3109 or alice.wallace@gvillesun.com.

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