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Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 04:02 pm

Wet Bar may become dry bar

City takes action on liquor license

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder has reduced hours at the Wet Bar, a downtown watering hole that’s known as much for fights and disturbances as drinking.

Effective immediately, the bar at 221 South Fifth Street must close at 1 a.m. instead of 3 a.m., according to the mayoral order issued Thursday. The mayor’s action came shortly after a melee outside the bar that was captured on video and posted on springfieldilexposed.com on Sunday.

The mayor has also called for a hearing before the city liquor commission to determine whether the bar’s liquor license should be revoked or suspended.

The bar’s owners could not be immediately reached for comment. But the establishment has long been on police radar.

Police have been called to the bar 87 times since Jan. 1, according to a memo written Tuesday by Officer Robert Jones. The most recent arrest came Saturday, when a disturbance inside the bar moved outside and onto Fifth Street, with more than a dozen people fighting, according to Jones’ memo. At least one person was arrested.

On Aug. 6, five officers had to call for backup to quell a disturbance that included a woman who was chasing people with a stun gun at the intersection of South Fifth and Monroe streets. Police arrested the woman with the weapon. Police have responded to at least four other fights or disturbances outside the bar this year, according to Jones’ memo. In addition, a 17-year-old youth posted a photo of himself inside the bar on Snapchat, according to the memo. Calling the bar “a chronic nuisance,” Jones wrote that the youth should not have been admitted to the bar.

“The large crowds outside the bar on Friday and Saturday nights at the 3 a.m. closing time frequently pose an unsafe situation for innocent bystanders and police officers committed to the downtown detail,” Jones wrote. “In my opinion, a nuisance abatement on this property is needed to improve the quality of life for others trying to enjoy Springfield’s other downtown entertainment venues.”

Langfelder could not be immediately reached for comment. Ward 5 Ald. Andrew Proctor, whose ward includes the Wet Bar, said that he’s fielded complaints from nearby business owners.

“I’ve heard from neighboring business owners, surrounding business owners up and down Fifth Street,” Proctor said. “It’s been an issue. We want to be able to say that downtown’s a good place for entertainment, for late night drinking to attract millennials. But not like this.”

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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