City leaders want to put a lid on alcohol problem in Bloomington

By Joe Bennett

October 23, 2012 Updated Oct 24, 2012 at 9:33 AM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill -- Monday night, the Bloomington City Council voted 8 to 2 against the controversial idea of providing more options to drink downtown.

Now, city officials are instead seeking options to curb public intoxication, vandalism and driving under the influence.

Bloomington Police Department Public Affairs Officer David White says police sometimes can't monitor establishments in violation of their liquor licenses.

"If there's no food on any of the tables, then I've got a problem," White explained. "But I would be writing a report that would go to my administration, and then that information would go to the liquor council."

Fifth Ward Alderman Jennifer McDade commends the efforts of Bloomington Police. She says enforcement on this issue needs to start elsewhere.

"I think the city has to send a strong message, and that starts with the liquor commission," Alderman McDade said. "The enforcement is a shared responsibility. Safety is a shared responsibility and an expectation in the community."

One person expecting that safety is Marlene Gregor. She owns a business downtown and is a member of the Downtown Bloomington Association.

"We get fights, public urination, vomiting, and we get vandalism," said Gregor. "We just had to replace an awning, they pull the little limbs off our trees and pull out flower pants out.

Gregor says the root of the problem is the accessibility to large amounts of alcohol from 19 bars throughout downtown.

David White believes the issue can be solved with the assistance of some business owners. He says certain taverns need to stop exceeding capacity and start serving alcohol responsibly.

Those we spoke with say it's a matter of finding the best way for enforcement.

In the meantime, police, city officials and business owners say they will be communicating with one another to dilute the ongoing problem causing a stir in the downtown district.

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