Herald JournalHerald Journal, Dec. 13, 2004

Bar closing time stays at 1 a.m. in Winsted

By Jane Otto
Staff Writer

It took roughly 10 minutes for Winsted City Council to know it wanted local bars to stick with the 1 a.m. closing.

The council unanimously agreed Tuesday on not changing the city ordinance to allow bars to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.

Jeff Fuerstenberug of Bailey’s Tavern and Grill had asked the city at a previous meeting to consider changing its ordinance. The Hollywood Ranch House’s 2 a.m. license could hurt his business, he had told the council.

Council Member Tom Ollig said he has the “utmost respect” for Fuerstenberug and his attempts to keep Bailey’s viable.

“It’s hard,” Ollig said. “But, for the life of me, I can’t find a reason that having bars in Winsted open until 2 a.m. would improve the quality of life in Winsted.”

The other bars in town had no current interest in staying open until 2 a.m., City Administrator Brent Mareck said.

“I don’t see what the other bars in town have anything to do with me closing at 2 a.m.,” Fuerstenberug said.

He didn’t understand how his possible 2 a.m. closing would bother anyone, he added.

“It would bother me,” said Gerald Heinen, who lives on Fifth Street South, behind Bailey’s. “If the other bars are closing at 1 a.m., then comes more traffic . . . car doors slamming and people whooping it up.”

More late night activity is a concern for Winsted Police Chief Mike Henrich. Henrich, who wasn’t at Tuesday’s meeting, shared his concerns via a letter. Among those concerns were a possible increase in bar fights, domestic assaults, and drunk driving arrests, all due to the later closing time.

That increase, he wrote, could also cost the city in overtime work or if extra police are needed to respond to the calls.

For bars that use on-street parking, a 2 a.m. closing would conflict with the city’s parking ordinance, which doesn’t allow parking on downtown streets after 2 a.m. The same is true for all other streets from November to March.

“If I look at the considerations of Police Chief Henrich, then that would be my reasons for not changing the ordinance,” Council Member Gerald Boldt said.

In May 2003, the Minnesota Legislature passed a law allowing bars to stay open until 2 a.m., but left the final say up to cities. Winsted will be like its neighbor cities of Lester Prairie, New Germany, Montrose, Waverly, Howard Lake, and Silver Lake, where bars close at 1 a.m.

Of the two bars in Mayer, one has a 2 a.m. license.

As for the Hollywood Ranch House, owner Rod Heldt said in an earlier interview that he supports anything a bar owner can do to survive.

Despite having a 2 a.m. license, the Ranch House, Heldt said, will be closing at 1 a.m. because it lowers his insurance cost.

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