Council's decision is effort to keep peace

P In turning down a request to license another bar where the Taste Lounge operated until last June, the council listened to the please of neighbors who say the area is much better now.

The Cape Girardeau City Council made a wise decision last week in refusing to grant a liquor license to another bar that would have opened in the building that formerly housed the Taste Restaurant and Lounge on Good Hope Street.

The applicant seeking the liquor license, Shelia Brown, made the point that her club, The Phoenix, would have had absolutely no connection to the former owner. She pointed out that people still hang out and drink near 402 Good Hope St., bar or no bar.

But the 14 neighbors who came to the city council meeting to protest the opening of another bar at that location said the problems are nothing like they were before.

One woman who lives more than a block north of the club said she could hear the disc jockey and pounding bass on nights the club was busy. Danna Cotner said the bar's closing, forced by council members when they wouldn't renew the liquor license in June, has caused what she feels is a related decrease in cruising late at night with the stereo blasting and a decrease in activity related to prostitution.

And a closer neighbor, Kim Dodson, said the "whoopin' and hollerin'" that typically accompanied the Taste's closing is all but gone.

But perhaps the best argument came from the council members themselves:

If Michael Pryor, owner of the Taste Lounge for 11 years, couldn't control the late-night crowds that congregated near the bar, they pointed out, no one could.

Pryor made good-faith efforts to keep down the riff-raff in and around his club, spending thousands of dollars in the process. He purchased three lots next to his business and tore down a condemned house used to shield gambling and drug deals. He built a fence along the east side of the Taste to keep troublemakers from hiding in the darkness beside his building.

Still "the Taste" became synonymous with "police involvement." Officers were forced to clear the streets of loiterers when the bar closed. They responded to more incidents there than any other bar in the city.

If there is follow-up work to be done with enforcing open-container and other laws around the old Taste building, Cape Girardeau police officers should step up and get it done.

But certainly conditions are better than when the Taste was operating.