Downtown nightlife to undergo significant changes

The Bloomington City Council voted for an ordinance on Monday to ban alcohol from party buses operating in the Central Illinois community.

Vehicles for hire can no longer allow liquor or open alcohol to be brought onto their party buses. The vote was six to two in favor of the new restriction.

As a note, it is against state law in Illinois to have open alcohol in any vehicle.

Tari Renner, mayor of Bloomington, explained the situation and the reasoning for the ordinance to be put in place.

“We want downtown to be clean,” Renner said. “We want downtown to be safe. We are making very strong strides in that direction.  For the people who are coming downtown, we would like you to have a good time.”

Some of the biggest issues are fights or violence outside of the bars, public urination, noise for residents in the area and throwing trash among others, Renner said.

A main catalyst for this new ordinance was when Illinois State Police shut down a party bus during a drive to Champaign.

Police have cited 51 underage passengers drinking on the party buses. As a result, city council with this ordinance has also expanded the amount of surveillance cameras from five to 20.

In addition to the changes in surveillance cameras, the alcohol compliance unit may be bolstered too.

The alcohol compliance unit is a police effort to deter safety problems, stop people from hurting one another and preventing crime related to downtown nightlife.

“If there is vandalism, issues of fighting or people being hurt, we will have more opportunities to catch people on camera,” Renner said.

In particular, there are two or three bars which tend to cause most of the problems. One of the bars mentioned was Main St. Bar & Grill and the others were not elaborated upon.

In an effort to clean up the streets, the downtown area will be power washed Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The funding for this project will come from increasing liquor license fees for downtown bars.

Some ISU students had a reaction to the new ordinance.

“I can understand why they would put more surveillance cameras in the downtown area because there tends to be some violent activity, but making it illegal to bring alcohol on buses just seems like an excuse to give people tickets,” Nick Dionesotes, senior sales major, said.

With this approval, police may mount undercover sting operations to make sure the rules are being enforced.

The date the ordinance is set to go into effect has not been disclosed. The magnitude of increase for the alcohol compliance unit and the use of the new surveillance cameras has still not been specified.

(Archive Photo)

(Archive Photo)

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