Davenport aldermen on Wednesday unanimously declined to give downtown bar Shenanigan’s permission to sell alcohol outdoors during the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, saying the bar has not done enough to address safety concerns raised by police.
The decision came following a prepared report from Davenport Maj. Jeff Bladel, who told council members that the department has responded to several calls for service over the last six months. Bladel said “significantly large fights” have broken out around the bar, calling the matter “a big public safety issue” in part because officers are spending too much time there.
“It’s unrealistic for me to say that we’re not gonna have fights, we’re not gonna have intoxicated people at bars or places where alcohol’s served,” Bladel said. “What makes this different is the amount and magnitude of disturbances and the amount of people we’re dealing with.”
Five other downtown bars applied and were approved for outdoor liquor sales for March 16, the day of a St. Patrick’s Day parade that will begin in Rock Island and cross the Mississippi via the Centennial Bridge to Davenport.
Michael Meloy, an attorney who represents the bar's owner, did not reply to a request for comment by late Wednesday. But he has previously said city officials and the police department have unfairly blamed Shenanigan's for issues that have occurred in an area with a high volume of other bars.
Alderwoman Marion Meginnis, whose 3rd Ward covers downtown, said Wednesday the persistence of fights around Shenanigan’s is “not appropriate for the neighborhood.” She also says she hopes the city and bar can find a way to resolve the issue without doing harm to the business.
“That would be the great outcome for me,” Meginnis said. “But if it’s not gonna happen that way, I’m gonna have a difficult time supporting anything for them.”
Still under review is an earlier liquor license denial by the city from October. Shenanigan’s appealed that decision to the state’s alcohol control board, which sided with the bar. The city then appealed the state’s decision.
The bar and the city have been on opposite sides of disputes for years. In all of them, the state board has sided with the bar, overruling the city’s attempts to pull the liquor license. Some aldermen lamented that fact on Wednesday night.
“The state of Iowa continues to turn their back on the city of Davenport on these important issues,” said Alderman Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward. “And to me it’s shameful.”
In other news:
Aldermen voted unanimously to approve the city’s proposed $226.6 million budget Wednesday night.
The spending plan sets aside $144.7 million for city operations and $32.5 million to pay down debt. Also included is a $49.3 million capital bill, putting money toward an ongoing riverfront improvement plan, citywide road repairs, a major sewer line overhaul and several other projects.
Parking ordinance passes
A new rule in Davenport gives local parking enforcement authorities the ability to use a vehicle locking device commonly known as the “boot.”
The device, often bright yellow, clamps over the wheels of passenger vehicles, leaving them temporarily immobile until it is removed. Under the proposed Davenport law, a vehicle could be booted whenever its owner has five or more unpaid tickets. To remove the boot, the vehicle owner would have to pay back all fines owed plus an $80 removal fee.
Nicole Gleason, Davenport’s public works director, has said the proposed method aims to “address specifically those who are in arrears significantly on parking violations.
Another provision of the proposed ordinance would make all of the city’s parking fines a flat $25, a change city officials say removes some of the confusion that comes with writing different tickets for various offenses.