Finding room for teen club

Brooklyn Park: Entrepreneur's plan may not be best for a community that is struggling to rebuild.

April 30, 1999

MARK AVERY has good intentions in planning a nightclub for teen-agers in Brooklyn Park, the northern Anne Arundel County community where he was born and raised. The 28-year-old entrepreneur sounds sincere when he says he wants to give young people something positive to do.

To be sure, the cry of "there's nothing to do" rings loudly from teen-agers, even in areas with a seemingly ample diversions. An alcohol-free nightclub for teen entertainment on weekend nights appeals to many young people and to parents concerned about harmful activities they might get into.

But questions about the proposed Club Lightnin' and its impact on the neighborhood, just south of the city, are legitimate. Brooklyn Park residents say their working-class community is struggling to retain families and revitalize. They fear the business could set back their efforts.

They find scant comfort when looking at a Baltimore County nightclub called the Twilight Zone, which features "teen nights" and has sparked numerous complaints since opening four years ago. Baltimore County police have described the Arbutus operation as "lawless, chaotic and, at times, nearly riotous."

Anne Arundel County Councilwoman Pamela G. Beidle has introduced a bill to stop the nightclub from opening in a Ritchie Highway shopping center before officials grant a permit. The fact that Mr. Avery applied for his permit before the bill was introduced might create some legal issues.

Mr. Avery sounds well-meaning. He offers the dance club to keep kids out of mischief, acknowledging he hopes to reduce the youth clientele for his other trade -- as a bail bondsman. Perhaps officials and residents can help him find a location everyone can live with.

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