Police seek suggestions on Fells Point crowds

District commander meets with merchants on ideas for management

January 09, 2003|By Scott Calvert | Scott Calvert,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police officials have a request for Fells Point merchants: Talk to us.

The department wants ideas on how to manage big crowds in the nightlife district on Halloween, St. Patrick's Day and other major party occasions without resorting to street closings and parking bans.

Maj. Jack Long of the Southeastern District extended the invitation after he angered business owners by not telling them he was limiting traffic and parking New Year's Eve.

Long said his goal was to keep a clear path for police cars and ambulances after Halloween partying turned chaotic. But some merchants said the New Year's Eve moves were an overreaction that deterred patrons and hurt sales.

The two sides met Tuesday at Max's on Broadway, where Long and two other city officials discussed the situation with owners of 15 bars, restaurants and shops.

Merchants say they will gladly give Long suggestions, although they insist Halloween was an aberration. They hope to show Long that Fells Point is not the same as it was when he patrolled the waterfront district for years, before a promotion took him away in 1996.

"It is no longer the beer-swilling, fighting kids that used to be down here all the time," said Max's owner Ron Furman. Restaurants such as the Black Olive have opened, he said, and companies such as architects RTKL Associates have opened offices.

Long, who took over as district commander six months ago, said he would see for himself whether the area has changed. In the meantime, he said, he is soliciting ideas from Furman and other business proprietors regarding Mardi Gras. That festive occasion falls on March 4 this year.

"We're waiting to see what they submit, and we'll go down that road when it comes," Long said.

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