It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of the city’s task force working to address complaints about the state of downtown Frederick at night.

The complaints tend to focus on too much noise, or code violations or problems at bars. But the underlying issue, which often goes unmentioned, is fear. And fear can do more to degrade and ultimately destroy a thriving central business district than anything else.

When people start avoiding a business district because they are fearful of crime or dealing with fighting and drunks and other disruptions, the businesses can get into trouble very quickly. There is a fine line between a lively street scene and a danger zone.

That’s why we support the creation of the Nighttime Economy Taskforce, and we hope that it will keep downtown’s streets safe.

A joint effort of the Frederick Police, Frederick County Liquor Board, State’s Attorney’s Office, Health Department and the Division of Fire and Rescue Services, the task force is putting an emphasis on collaboration to end complaints late in the evening in downtown Frederick.

Frederick Police Chief Jason Lando told reporter Mary Grace Keller that a visible police presence and enforcing the law is only part of the solution. “It is difficult to tackle these concerns without collaboration and cooperation,” he said.

The hope is that the task force will find solutions to community concerns and complaints and be able to resolve them without having to implement harsh penalties or fines.

Dawn Shugars, Liquor Board administrator, said the task force has already proven helpful after just two meetings.

Shugars told our reporter that the group’s initial meetings were educational and eye-opening. At one meeting, she said she learned a restaurant being blamed for loud music was not connected to the band that had set up on the sidewalk outside. Through the task force, she also learned of a change to the noise ordinance she hadn’t been aware of previously.

“This gives you tools, a collaborative tool,” she said.

Lando said the goal is to address issues at bars, stores and restaurants that negatively affect the quality of life for downtown residents and visitors to the historic district.

The task force wants to work with business owners to “ ... ensure they are doing everything possible to be responsible neighbors and business owners,” he said.

“... Underlying issues such as excessive noise, over-serving, underage consumption, and overcrowding fall under the purview of our partner agencies,” Lando wrote in an email. “It is difficult to tackle these concerns without collaboration and cooperation.”

Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor described the task force as an innovative approach to providing a high quality of life, while Frederick County State’s Attorney Charlie Smith expressed support in working with NET partners to “build better neighborhoods” by bringing local businesses into compliance.

People come to downtown Frederick, especially on the weekends, to have fun, get some good food and share a few drinks with friends. A lively downtown draws people, and the crowds can make it even more lively. That is what has happened with downtown Frederick, where success has bred more success.

The task force will be successful if it is able to work with the owners of bars and restaurants to maintain that fun atmosphere. We must not slip into the danger zone in which people become fearful of trouble, and decide to avoid the neighborhood entirely.

That result would be a disaster for the city, and for the businesses as well. The task force is a step in the right direction to keep the area thriving.

(9) comments

micky

Daddy always said, "Nothing good happens after midnight" !!

doitforahobby

We already have laws and enforcement in the City of Frederick, so why would we need a Task Force?

sevenstones1000

Apparently they aren’t working.

Piedmontgardener

Simple - coordination. I just don't understand why that's an issue.

MD1756

"That’s why we support the creation of the Nighttime Economy Taskforce, and we hope that it will keep downtown’s streets safe."

How about supporting greater law enforcement presence during the times when more laws might be broken or more serious crimes might happen?

sevenstones1000

Will they be able to stop the ear-splitting motorcycles that speed through downtown with no other purpose than to disrupt and annoy? I hesitate to attend any more First Saturdays or other events because of their ubiquitous presence.

yogib

I agree seven. my wife and I were hoping to enjoy a nice dinner downtown this summer and the noise was unbearable. Not a cop to be seen as the cycles and souped up cars roared up Market St. It was our last.

FrederickFan

Chief Lando has proven to be a collaborative leader with outstanding ideas to tackle complicated problems. The city is really going to benefit from his leadership and Mayor O'Connor should be congratulated for making such a great hire.

MrSniper

Agreed. I’m pleasantly surprised.

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