Chippewa District "21 and Up" Policy Debated

May 24, 2011 Updated May 24, 2011 at 10:47 PM EDT

By Jennifer Stanonis

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May 24, 2011 Updated May 24, 2011 at 10:47 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -- The downtown Chippewa District could still become a 21 and up entertainment spot. Business owners and area residents attended a public hearing at the Buffalo Common Council meeting on Tuesday to discuss this and how to cut down violence in the area.

Also at the meeting was Brenda Hardy. Her 16 year old son was shot early Sunday morning on Pearl Street at Tupper, after a fight at a party spilled into the street. He survived but his foot is being amputated. "My son was jumped, they said over 10 guys fighting him... he end up almost losing his life. I wanted you guys to hear my story what goes on down there," Hardy told the council. "They don't know if they are going to have to go far up his leg, they are going to see that in surgery, but he was fighting for his life."

One idea to cut down the crime in the Chippewa District is to restrict anyone under the age of 21 from entering clubs there. "We will either create legislation that creates that specialized zone or go back to the drawing board and look at what else we may need to do," council member Darius Pridgen said.

Several bar owners and employees in the Chippewa District expressed major concerns about this 21 and up policy. "Many of the bars survive off of 18 and over and it will make it less safe downtown by making it a ghost town. Some of these bars will close without that income," Adam Tanalski, an employee at Bottom's Up Bar and Nightclub, said.

"As long as the businesses are operating responsibly, you're not having carry outs, kids underage drinking consuming inside the bars, as long as the bars are doing everything within their power to mitigate risk there's no reason to unfairly target the businesses," Sean Coughlin, manager at Bayou, said.

Other options discussed at the public hearing focused more on security rather than just the younger crowd. "I don't want to blame all of downtown on young people, but we're moving forward with the event forum where bars would have to notify the city when they are going to have a larger event," Pridgen said. "Really encouraging bars that when you put people out of your establishment that doesn't mean that the problem ends, that they must notify police."