Neighbors raise their voices on 'problem bar'

. - A community forum was held Wednesday night focusing on one neighborhood bar.

It's a business, community members say is ruining their neighborhood and children's livelihood.

"We are here to take our community back," said Amber Billian, a neighbor. "You are no longer welcome in my eyes."

Neighbors shouted complaints to the owners of Vickie's Bar and Grill on Douglas Road. It's just steps from Wernert Elementary.

Parents and community members are concerned not just about the illegal activity the bar is bringing into the neighborhood, but also for children's safety.

Vickie's Bar and Grill opened about seven months ago. Neighbors said since it opened their neighborhood has seen issue after issue.

"They are not peeing on your front lawn," shouted one neighbor to a city council member at Wednesday's community forum to address the problems at the bar.

"Nightly, we're getting 911 affiliated texts of recklessness happening, patrons fist fights, things like this," said Lianne Whitaker, a neighbor and parent. "I'm tired of my kids not being able to play on the playgrounds because they are finding glass, finding bottles, finding drug paraphernalia in the playground Honestly, I think the bar should have their liquor license removed and be moved out of the neighborhood."

"In the middle of the night, people racing up and down the side streets, they took down the fence that we had to keep them out of the school parking lot so that their patrons can park here," explained Jim Cooper, a neighbor and father of four students at Wernert Elementary. "They have had no respect for our property, for our children's safety and they are not good neighbors.They are trying to run a nightclub for hundreds of people in a neighborhood bar in a plaza that holds 80 or 90 people."

Not only did neighbors come to address the problems, but so did the bar owner, employees and their lawyer.

"There has not been a single arrest in Vickie's Bar and more in their parking lot not one,' said the bar's attorney Richard Hasbrook.

Toledo police disagreed saying they have eight arrests in the bar's parking lot. Police also said they were issued two citations from liquor control.

Toledo Police recommended that Toledo City Council should not renew Vickie's Bar and Grill's liquor license about a month ago, but council members gave the bar a second chance.

At Wednesday's community forum some admitted they made the decision with little information and now recognize that wasn't the right decision.

Yvonne Harper told the neighbors after the vote she wanted to randomly look into the bar so she visited a random Saturday night and was shocked with what she saw.

"When I drove down the street just to look to see what was going on, I was appalled," said Yvonne Harper, Toledo City Council member.

Some council members at Wednesday's meeting say they want to find a solution, somehow, some way.

"I am here to own up what I said, also for safety reasons and I hear your plea. We need to figure this out," said Harper.

"There is a process that has to be taken and as far as I am concerned I want to work with the police department to try to continue that process," said Toledo City Council member Gary Johnson and also chairman of the public safety committee.

"You are entitled to your quiet enjoyment and your property and you should not have to put up with the noise."

Vickie's Bar and Grill is also a concern for Washington Local Schools too.

"Lots of beer bottles, alcohol bottles, drug paraphernalia such as needles were found in our parking lots," said WLS Superintendent Susan Hayward. "And so, our staff is getting up in the mornings and searching our property to make sure that our kids are coming to school safe, that our staff is coming to school safe."

Since the bar opened WLS has had to add security to their elementary that sits right next to the bar and even had to put up locked gates to keep bar customers off of school property.

"We want a safe environment for our community as well as our school district," said Superintendent Hayward.

The bar does have security, but say it's difficult to manage their customers once they leave the bar. Their attorney said they will work to be better neighbors.

"City council is very concerned, as are we and it's a learning curve and we'll continue to do our best," said Richard Hasbrook, attorney representing Vickie's
Bar and Grill.

Meanwhile, neighbors want the bar shut down for good and out of their neighborhood.

"Once again, I suggest that council take up revoking the license and shut the business down," said one neighbor with much applause to follow.

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