As the city's mayor urges Warren County lawmakers to move up the closing time for local bars, Glens Falls Police have beefed up patrols of the South Street entertainment district. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, while bar owners claim big improvements have been made, officials say more needs to be done.
GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – When Anthony Poulos and his partners took over the Irish Pub on South Street 10 years ago, he admits, the downtown Glens Falls bar district left something to be desired.
"At that time, it was rough on this street,” Poulos said Wednesday morning. “There were drug dealers on every corner. It was rampant."
A decade later, Poulos says it's been a complete turnaround. In large part because of an added police presence.
"The police started really canvassing day and night and as you can see now, there's nobody on the street day or night that's doing that," Poulous said.
While Poulos and other South Street bar owners claim the situation has improved, Glens Falls City Mayor Jack Diamond still believes more needs to be done. He says South Street's reputation has made it difficult to recruit new business owners and developers.
"They'd love to come down here and live in downtown Glens Falls, however, we have an entertainment district that is very lively between the hours of 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and they're not interested," Diamond said.
According to Mayor Diamond, 44 percent of the Glens Falls Police Department's arrests in 2012 occurred on South Street, with more than 60 percent of those taking place between midnight and 4 a.m. That's part of the reason he freed up funds for officers to conduct routine "quality of life" checks on weekends.
"These officers are out there on weekends and they're making these arrests,” Glens Falls Police Department Chief Will Valenza said. “Hopefully, you hit the small targets and the bigger targets never materialize."
On top of bringing back the welfare checks, which were routine until two years ago, the mayor is urging county lawmakers to move up the mandatory bar closing time by two hours.
While some bar owners caution that will drastically harm their business, Diamond believes it's a necessary measure.
"If we're going to change South Street and we've invested a lot of money to change the culture of South Street, I think that's one step in the right direction," Diamond said.
"As a bar owner, no, I'm not crazy about it,” Poulos said. “But if that's what the mayor and the supervisors of Warren County want us to do, we'll have to do what they say."
At next week’s meeting, the Glens Falls Common Council will officially consider a resolution in support of changing Warren County’s bar closing time from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m.