Rock Island City Council to revisit bar hours in The District

Published: Sep. 14, 2020 at 11:35 PM CDT
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - The Rock Island City Council passed a motion Monday to revisit discussion of bar hours in The District.

In a five to one vote, the council voted to send the item to second consideration at the next city council meeting. If it passes then, bars in The District would have to close an hour earlier.

This isn’t the first time the city has tried to make the change from 3:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Earlier this summer, the council voted on the item, but it failed because it needed a super majority.

“Losing the one to two or the two to three hour does not translate to opening at four in the afternoon. We are bars and nightclubs. It’s late night business,” Bruce Harrell, owner of M.D. Greens said after attending Monday’s City Council meeting.

Previously, Mayor Mike Thoms cited concerns over the ongoing pandemic, wanting bar hours to be on par with the rest of the Quad Cities, and crime. However, bar owners in The District say they are being unfairly blamed for crime in the area.

“We stepped up to the city. We closed early. We put up fences. Monitored the plaza with security. This didn’t happen inside the secure fences or anything else. Here we are a week later or two weeks later. We’re getting our license changed by the city council and there’s no reason to,” Terry Tilka, owner of RIBCO, said following Monday’s meeting.

One of the most recent incidents was a shooting on Aug. 29 that left one person dead and five others injured but bar owners say that incident actually happened outside of the gated area of the plaza.

One bar owner said closing bars earlier won’t help reduce crime because crime is unpredicatable.

“Two weeks ago when this mass shooting happened, I watched the whole thing start. It started 100 feet from my bar. At 2:02AM, that’s when the fighting started. The shooting happened four to five minutes after that. If we had closed at 2AM like you guys want to vote on, all the college kids that were there would have been outside," Chris Michaels, owner of Billy Bob’s Redneck Party said to the council.

Alderman Dylan Parker was the only council member who voted against moving the item to a second consideration. He represents much of the downtown area, including the district.

Since the item passed, it will be on the agenda at the next city council meeting in two weeks.

The council also unanimously passed a resolution creating a moratorium on class A through E liquor licenses in the downtown area until May 1, 2020, a decision that left bar owners confused.

“We’re not going to get the goal or get the success we want unless we have participation from the city and the private sector. We have to work together. If we work together, we can get to the common goal that we want. We’ve done it in the past and it can be done again. I think that’s my biggest question for the city council was I want to know what their vision is. What do they want to see downtown. What do they want it to look like. What do they want it to feel like. And that’ll help the rest of us decide how we want to make our decisions and what we want to do moving forward,” Kyle Peters, owner of the Daiquiri Factory, said.

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