Taste will stay closed, owner tells city council

Tuesday, February 3, 2004

The Taste after-hours club on Good Hope won't reopen, its owner told the Cape Girardeau City Council Monday night.

A man was shot to death outside the Taste at 402 Good Hope St. on New Year's Day, sparking an outcry from neighbors who urged the council to shut down a business they said led to unruly and drunken crowds, peace disturbance and violence.

Patrick Buck, who opened the club in October in a building that had once been a tavern called the Taste Lounge, said he won't reopen because he doesn't want to get into "a long drawn-out fight" with neighbors. The club has been closed for about a month.

Buck said he understood the concerns of neighbors who want peace and quiet. But he said that "no man wants to feel he is being pushed out."

He publicly said several months ago he would close the business if it posed problems for the neighborhood. He told the council he was keeping his word.

"We can just go ahead and let you all rest in peace," Buck told the council.

Mayor Jay Knudtson praised Buck for being "a man of your word."

Last month, Knudtson said he respected Buck but questioned the club owner's ability to control the crowds that congregated there in the early morning hours after bars closed.

Despite closing the Taste, Buck said there is still a demand for after-hours clubs. He said he would like to provide advice to city officials should they consider drafting regulations regarding the operation of such clubs.

Looking at cost-cutting moves

In other action Monday, city manager Doug Leslie submitted a 21-page document to the city council listing various possible cost-cutting moves and ways to increase general fund revenue such as charging for funeral escorts and raising parks and recreation fees.

The cost-cutting moves range from cutting back on park maintenance to closing Capaha Pool and the city's oldest fire station, eliminating the leaf pickup program, and reducing control tower operations at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

The report, which Leslie and city finance director John Richbourg drafted in response to council requests, details possible savings of as much as $825,573.

Some of the savings would come from eliminating some positions, the report said.

But Knudtson and Leslie cautioned against reading too much into the report. Leslie said the report is a starting point for discussion on trimming expenses. "Actually no decisions have been made on anything," he said.

The council will meet Thursday to discuss the budget issues.

Humane Society argument

In other action, the council voted to table the final readings of an ordinance that would have restricted city pet owners to a maximum of four dogs and four cats.

The council acted after officials with the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri and several pet owners including former police chief Rick Hetzel argued that the city shouldn't change the existing animal control regulations which limit the number of household pets that aren't spayed or neutered.

Hetzel and other pet owners said the proposed limit would hinder city residents who serve as foster pet owners, taking in stray animals when no other home can be found for them.

"I do feel the ordinance we have is enforceable," animal shelter board member Requi Salter told the council.

She said those who have their pets spayed or neutered are not the ones whose animals are nuisances. She said there is no need to limit spayed and neutered pets.

Knudtson urged city staff and animal shelter officials to work together to draft suitable restrictions that would allow the city to adequately address animal nuisance problems.

In other business, the council voted to restrict the purchase and use of fireworks. The restrictions include a ban on the sale and discharge of all aerial devices "on a stick."

Councilwoman Marcia Ritter cast the lone dissenting vote. Ritter said the restrictions didn't go far enough to ban dangerous fireworks.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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