No Watering Hole People live there: Fells Point has a profusion of bars, but it's still a neighborhood.

November 03, 1995

WEDNESDAY NIGHT. That's when the bar scene in Fells Point starts getting hot. By Saturday night, it's a cornucopia of co-ed camaraderie for those who like their entertainment by the bottle. That's great for the bars. But it's not good for the people who live in Fells Point. Their neighborhood gets treated like a giant patio for every watering hole in the vicinity.

For Richard C. Shellhorn, the problem is as plain as the satellite dishes he sees atop the ever-competitive Fells Point bars so they can pick up ball games and other sporting events. Mr. Shellhorn still loves the neighborhood he moved to in 1983. But the bar patrons are driving him crazy. They tie up traffic. They park where they are not supposed to. They are noisy. They damage property. They leave litter everywhere. They relieve themselves anywhere.

Some say local residents can't complain because they knew what things were like before they moved in. But Fells Point wasn't always this way. Today there are 49 bars or restaurants with liquor licenses; proposed "megabars" amount to huge open-air clubs. Lawmakers are pushing hard to keep that from happening. In the meantime, simpler steps ought to be taken to make Fells Point habitable.

There's sufficient police presence -- at least six officers -- on weekend nights. But officers have got to be tougher, even at the risk of offending some inebriated tourist who might decide he prefers to spend his money elsewhere.

People usually don't break the law unless they think they can get away with it. Too often this happens in Fells Point. If bar patrons see that laws against public intoxication and trespassing are enforced, they're less likely to commit crimes. Fells Point would still be a fun place, but it would also be a better place to live.

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