Calls Increase For Visions Nightclub To Be Closed–Where Was City Oversight?

I readily admit that Madison City Council member David Ahrens is not my favorite member of that body.  But in the same breath I can say his stock will rise mightily if he can secure the closure of the troubled Visions Nightclub on the East Side.

It was reported above the fold in the morning newspaper–a place where news makers wish to land–that a solid attempt is being made to get the liquor license of the strip club revoked. This is a position I advocate.

The news this week about the business deals with four people being shot and wounded and another stabbed with a knife.

Ahrens did not mince words when describing the business as a “blight on the neighborhood and a hub of prostitution, drug selling, binge drinking and violence.”

There have been a dozen police calls made in 2018 to respond to Visions for disturbances and battery, and another half-dozen reports of vehicles being broken into or stolen from the nightclub parking lot.  Madison Police Department records show more than 50 911 calls from the Visions address in 2018, many for parking complaints or checking on people, but 17 were for more serious problems, including six for disturbances, two for battery, three for stolen autos, two for theft from autos, two for damage to property and one for theft.

I applaud Ahrens for making a stand. 

“Unlike a neighborhood tavern, (Visions) has absolutely no social benefit,” he said. “It degrades both the women who work there and the patrons.

“Visions is an anachronism that exists due to a deal made decades ago to move it out of Downtown, but without any regard to the toll that it would take on the neighborhood where it was relocated.”

One must question how the city’s Alcohol Review Committee has not found the impact of this businesses upon the community worthy of its attention.  It is galling to read Alderman Mike Verveer try to punt the blame game onto the shoulders of the police chief.    Last time I checked Verveer was a member of ALRC, a powerful voice in the council, and a mover and shaker when he actually wanted to achieve something.  It is always painful to witness–regardless the layer of government–when an attempt is made to shuffle blame.    

Residents of houses — where children can play on plastic playground equipment and yard toys in backyards directly behind Visions — said that they’ve long had problems with the strip club’s patrons spilling out from the club and starting fights, being loud or congregating in front of houses late at night.

Visions’ liquor license should have been flagged during the most recent review period because of the ongoing problems.

“I will make every effort in the four months remaining in my term to have Visions’ liquor license revoked,” Ahrens said.

Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, a longtime member of the Alcohol License Review Committee, said in an interview that Visions’ liquor license has not been questioned in recent years.

However, if Police Chief Mike Koval deemed the nightclub to have imminent concerns, he could shut it down.

“The City Council granted the authority to the police chief to implement a security plan which could be implemented immediately,” Verveer said. “It’s seldom used, but it could range from restricting hours of operation to having the business getting a third-party security firm.”

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