Problems at downtown bar ‘escalating’

In two months when Mako’s Bar and Grill’s liquor license expires, Port Orchard Police Chief Alan Townsend said he will be recommending to the Washington State Liquor Control Board that it not be renewed.

“The license expires on Feb. 29, 2008, and the liquor board asks for input from the jurisdictions,” Townsend said, explaining that despite trying to work with bar owner Julie Wollam to reduce the amount of times his officers are called to the establishment, the problems have continued.

“From Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, we had 204 calls, which is significantly more than similar places,” he said. “No other bar comes close to that.”

Early last year, Townsend wrote a sim-

ilar letter to the liquor board, recommending it “work closely with Mako’s Bar and Grill to deal with the underlying problems resulting in significant police activity at this establishment.”

From Jan. 1 to March 15, Townsend said his officers responded to Mako’s 36 times, with half the responses resulting in “significant police activity,” the majority of which were “fights/assaults involving grossly intoxicated individuals.

“People are getting hurt down there now, and we don’t want it to get worse,” Townsend said, explaining that “part of (the problem) is the clientele, and part of it is the bar.”

At the time, Townsend said the bar owner was cooperating with his department and he was hoping the situation would improve. This month, however, he said it unfortunately hadn’t.

“We waited a long time, and perhaps longer than we should have waited,” he said, describing the main issues as “huge fights and gang-related activities. The problems have escalated, and we were really lucky we haven’t had a shooting or someone killed there.”

Mayor Kim Abel signed Townsend’s letter earlier this year, and said she would be willing to sign another one.

“I’d be happy to sign it,” Abel said, explaining that she heard plenty of evidence from both Townsend and citizens that the bar was a consistent problem. “I heard the community’s concerns, and hopefully we can get them into compliance or take away their license.”

On Friday, Mako’s was closed, as it has been for much of the month. A notice on the window reads only: Sorry, closed due to flooding; we will be reopening Wed., Dec. 12, for dollar beer night.”

Townsend he heard, but had not confirmed, that the bar will not be reopening. He said he will be writing the letter early next year.

In 2004, Townsend experienced similar problems with a former downtown bar known as the Harborside, which was also on Bay Street.

Those problems included noise complaints, several alleged incidents of patrons being arrested for drunk driving and underage drinking, and repeated out-of-control behavior including fights and trespassing that Townsend said also monopolized his police force every weekend.

After several attempts by Harborside’s owner to improve operations proved unsuccessful, the establishment’s liquor license was not renewed and it eventually closed.

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