We can certainly understand the frustration and concerns of downtown Lowell residents and police officials about the vandalism and violence that can spill out of bars at closing time, but we don’t think every restaurant and nightclub should be punished for the sins of a few.
Some believe closing time should be rolled back from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m.
About seven months ago, the city of Lawrence changed its closing time to 1 a.m. on weekdays, but kept it at 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Lawrence saw a decrease in major crimes, in part because people weren’t flooding into the city for last call. The drop in crime is particularly interesting because the weekend nights — typically the busiest for bars and crime — still have the later closing time.
We question whether Lowell would experience a similar decrease. Both Dracut and Tyngsboro have 2 a.m. closing times and much of the city’s downtown crimes happen before 1 or 2 a.m.
Instead of punishing all bar and restaurant owners by reducing their business hours, why not consider the closing times of each on a case-by-case basis? Such a move may well inspire neglectful owners to become more involved and managers to keep a closer eye on their patrons.
City License Commissioner Walter Bayliss and City Councilor Eileen Donoghue already have stated that they lean toward reducing hours at problem locations instead of pushing for a blanket change.
They are correct in noting that if the bar owners and city officials work cooperatively, there will likely be no need for a measure that will cut into responsible bar owners profits.