The City Council heard an earful Monday night from Loop business owners fed up with groups of young people running amok in the Loop on weekends.
"It's absolutely a (expletive) hole," said . He said the unruly mobs of teen-agers are driving away business."You've got to stand up to these people," he pleaded with University City councilmembers. He said loitering laws need to be enforced.
The City is looking at installing security cameras in the Loop, and is currently accepting bids for the cameras, said , who added "we are aware of the seriousness of this issue."
"We're interested in improving all the security in the Loop and one of the ways we can do that is if we have surveillance cameras, so we can basically monitor activities in the Loop," said City Manager Lehman Walker.
Jessica Bueler, owner of and president of the proposed several recommendations to the council; modify existing curfew from 9pm for people 17 and under to 6pm for those 17 and under and implement it seven days a week. Also, attach a $200.00 fine to those who violate the curfew. Matthew Dawson, the chef at described to the council how he yelled at a 13-year-old for flicking a lit cigarette at a bartender.
Jeff Weintrop, vice chair of the Loop Special Business District and owner of says the teens have no fear of authority and are looking for a confrontation. He suggested having paddy wagons to round up the youths and keep them off the street. "I need your help. The Loop needs your help," said Weintrop.
Walker said this past weekend, four police officers patrolled the Loop on Friday, five on Saturday and four on Sunday. He said the City will review the current curfew and evaluate staffing levels to see if more police patrols need to be in the Loop on weekends.
Michael Alter, owner of , said he was late to the council meeting because of a staff meeting where workers were discussing whether to cut back hours on the weekends and close earlier.
He said he spent this past weekend at Fitz's and was shocked by the behavior. "It is terrible for our businesses and it is terrible for our community."
"We've had episodes inside our business where our managers have been threatened by minors. Not politely threatened. Meanly threatened," he said.
Alter said the issues are real and need to be taken seriously. "It needs to be addressed quickly or all things we've worked hard for are going to slip away and slip away fast."
Councilmember Byron Price (First Ward) said the majority of the problem kids are not from University City. They come from other municipalities he said.
"It is the new Galleria outside," said Councilmember L. Michael Glickert (Second Ward). "I don't think any of us have experienced this kind of phenomenon and we need to address it...and we will come down hard."
Councilmember Glickert promised residents that the Loop would be cleaned up. "You're going to go there safely and you're going to leave there safely...It's going to happen. They are not going to take over our Loop."