Jim Coston, South Ward councilman for the City of Trenton, announced a nice victory yesterday in the city’s battle with irresponsible bar owners who allow their patrons and their activities to get out of control, frequently to the detriment of the surrounding area.
Mr. Coston said that State ABC officials actually asked for a hearing on the granting of a stay to a bar owner whose bar had become notorious for damaging the quality of life in the South Ward neighborhood in which it is located.
Usually state ABC officials grant a stay without a hearing, leading to an additional 8 to 10 months of agony for the locals, but this time Mr. Coston and community members gathered testimonials and photographic evidence of the bar and its associated activities, which resulted in an official stay hearing date in September.
Now, this is indeed good news, given how this particular establishment has wreaked havoc on the city.
But situations like this are happening all over the city, and Trenton, like many other cities, is ill-equipped to deal with ABC violators. There is only a single ABC officer attached to the Trenton Police Department, responsible for hundreds of bars in the capital city.
Illegal activity happens at some of the finest of these establishments, and at the lesser city cantinas, illegal activity runs rampant and frequently spills into the surrounding streets.
The city needs to get more men on the job. Effective ABC policing is a good way to nip much city crime in the bud, but those efforts are severely hampered with the fact that the city and people like Mr. Coston are forced to rely upon a single ABC officer.
Add to that the usual willingness of the state to grant stays to the worst of the bar owners, and the result is a situation where out-of-control bars will continue to thrive in Trenton.