New Loitering Ordinance for The District - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

New Loitering Ordinance for The District

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The New Year means a new rule in Rock Island, Illinois.

Beginning at midnight, Rock Island Police will be enforcing the new Loitering Ordinance in The District.

The ordinance bans people under 21 years old from "loitering, congregating, or remaining in the public areas of the Great River Plaza" between the hours of 12 a.m. and 3 a.m. every night.

People between the ages of 17 and 20 are not barred from The District during those hours - but they have a legitimate reason to be there.

Those reasons include, but are not limited to, things like:

-Patronizing restaurants, coffee shops, or arts and entertainment venues that cater to the under 21 crowd

-Working at one of the businesses in the area

-Going to or leaving nearby residences

-Waiting to take friends home if you're a designated driver

The new rule is meant to stop people who are too young to be in the bars from hanging out outside them and causing disturbances:

"If you're not down here patronizing a bar and you're just standing outside and you're not spending any money, obviously you're down here looking for trouble," Michael King, owner of Hickey Brothers Cigars in the District, said.

"The girls are wild; they drank too much; they're falling down. The boys are yipping and a yelling, and it's just not cool," said Carolyn Smith, a Rock Island resident who was enjoying a drink in the District Monday afternoon.

Smith says it is that kind of behavior that keeps paying customers like her from patronizing businesses in the District after a certain time of night.

That's exactly the kind of problem area business owners hope the new loitering ordinance will solve.

"We're behind it 100 percent," David Smith, a manager at the Blue Cat Brew Pub, said.

"I think it will make the patrons who visit the district down here feel a bit more safe," he added.

Smith said he thinks the new ordinance will help - not hurt - the bottom lines for businesses in the area. That is even though the Blue Cat Brew Pub is a restaurant that welcomes people of all ages, not just those of legal drinking age.

"But when the kitchen closes at midnight, it's time for them to leave too," he explained. "This is an adult entertainment area and there's no reason for them to be down here."

Hickey Brother Cigars owner Michael King is also a big supporter of the ordinance - even though his is a business that stays open until 1 a.m. on the weekends serving anyone old enough to legally buy tobacco.

"People will understand that 18,19, and 20 year olds are welcome down here. It's the fact that after they're done here, they need to go home. They cannot stand in the middle of the plaza and not patronize a place," he said.

"I think it's excellent!" said Carolyn Smith about the new ordinance taking effect. "It will keep the riff-ruffs from down in this area."

Still, not everyone is happy about it:

"Even though there's not things down here that they're able to do, it still takes away from the whole freedom of them being 18 and being able to come out and just do whatever they want," said 20-year-old Adam Myhill, a Hickey Brother's customer.

Like it or not, starting at 12 a.m. January 1, Rock Island Police will be ticketing anyone caught breaking the loitering law.

Those tickets carry a fine of between $75 and $500.

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