Becoming better neighbors

Residents who live near the Paradise Lounge, the Powerhouse Bar and Grill and II Hype Bar have for years complained about loud music, trash and violence.

But now, according to some, the businesses are becoming better neighbors.

Jesse Lawson, who lives a few doors down from the Paradise, 2261 N. Park Ave., said it is much better today than it was when it was called Benji Brown’s and operated by a different owner.

“At that time, the customers were parking their cars up and down the street in front of people’s houses,” Lawson said. “There were fights outside of the bar. It definitely has calmed down.”

The city closed Benji Brown’s as a nuisance in 2008.

Likewise, American Legion Hall Post 278 Cmdr. Chris Martin said bar patrons used to use the post’s lot for parking and as a receptacle for broken bottles and other trash, but the situation is improving.

“It is better now than when it was Benji Brown’s,” he said.

Last year, the post began monitoring the parking lot and charging bar patrons $5 per vehicle to use the lot. At first, they were collecting hundreds of dollars a night; that cut down its use.

“We’re no longer out there every weekend,” Martin said, though he added that he still periodically has to clean the lot.

There were 36 calls for service at the Paradise Bar in 2012, including three calls for gunshots, two for assaults, three for fights, one for a theft and one for burglary.

“Over the last year, we have not had as many problems as we had in the past,” Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd Ward, said.

The Powerhouse Bar and Grill, 999 Mahoning Ave., had 54 calls for service during 2012, according to police records. Five dealt with weapons or gunshots, two assaults, four disturbances, two thefts and one robbery.

Novak said there have been reports of violence in and around the Powerhouse over the years. However, the management is attempting to increase safety by placing cameras outside the building, he said.

Habosky Davidson International Inc. is listed by the Trumbull County Auditor’s office as the owner of the Powerhouse. Numerous efforts to reach Mark Davidson, an owner of the Powerhouse, were not successful.

Police Chief Tim Bowers said the department has met with the business owners about how they can reduce problems. The owners have been told they need to address whatever problems are taking place on their properties or the city will take appropriate legal action, he said.

“We have, for example, had numerous meetings with the owners of the Powerhouse and II Hype Bar to discuss what they could do to reduce calls at their establishments,” Bowers said.

Complaints about II Hype Bar, 948 Mahoning Ave., primarily have centered on the volume of the music coming from the business. Twenty-five of the 40 calls for service received by the police in 2012 were noise complaints. There were three calls for disturbances, two for vandalism, one for a fight and one for a burglary.

Christopher Alsbrook, 470 Summit St. N.W., whose home borders the bar, in 2011 and 2012 filed numerous complaints with police, council and administration officials about music coming from the patio. The music is so loud, he claims, that it rattles his windows and vibrates items inside his home.

Alsbrook last year collected signatures of nearly 40 neighbors complaining about the noise.

“All we are doing is asking them to lower the volume late at night,” he said. “They put the speakers outside on its back patio. “

Daron Freeman, a co-owner of the club, said he has been working with city officials and attempting to work with Alsbrook about his concerns.

Warren police officers have gone to Alsbrook’s home with devices to measure the sound levels and said they have always found the volume within the limits allowed by the city’s noise ordinances. Alsbrook claims that’s because bar operators turn down the volume when police arrive.

Novak and Mayor Doug Franklin both have met with each side to mediate their concerns.

“The owners of the bar have attempted to do what they can to work with the city to address the concerns of a neighbor,” Franklin said.

“We are following all of the city ordinances,” Freeman said. “We’ve operating a patron-friendly establishment. We were told by police that the volume of our music is within the legal limits.

”We have adjusted our insurance so we can have an off-duty police officer working here if there is a need,” he said.