The Tunnel closes

July 07, 2002

THERE IS SOME good news on Eutaw Street: City authorities have closed down the Tunnel, a rowdy hip-hop club that was linked to two recent homicides.

Police and zoning enforcement officials raided the cavernous club a week ago Friday and ordered it shut. "The message is that dangerous and illegal activity will not be tolerated," Deputy Mayor Laurie Schwartz said.

The city's willingness to use zoning laws to get rid of the club should send a strong message to other disorderly night spots as well. A valid liquor license -- which the Tunnel continues to have -- is not enough to operate a club.

The Tunnel's closing is a victory for the whole Lexington Market area. It is in the midst of a major transition to a more residential neighborhood. Within the next two years, it will also be the home of a leading theater. The Tunnel and the violence it generated conflicted with that bright future.

Over the past year, a new nightlife district has emerged near City Hall. Thousands of revelers go clubbing there on weekends, demonstrating that good music and good fun can contribute to Baltimore's vitality.

That's why it's critically important that officials know where to draw the line and, when trouble occurs, to enforce it. This is the real significance of the city's action against the Tunnel.

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