Sarasota chief wants Newtown closed at 11 p.m.

Sarasota, Florida -- Newtown businesses may be forced to close by 11 p.m. under a proposal from the police chief to the city commission.

Chief Bernadette DiPino says the change would hopefully cut the hundreds of service calls there since last year. The businesses are located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way between U.S. 301 and Osprey Avenue.

Lance Shabazz owns three business in the heart of Newtown, Sarasota's African-American community. Some stay open till 2 a.m. or 4 a.m. and hundreds of people gather there as seen on a YouTube video.

"This area has been a blessing that's what keeps some businesses up and going making money is the economics that comes through here late at night," Shabazz said.

DiPino says the crowds are also causing trouble and wants the city to shut down the Newtown businesses between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Those are the same hours for businesses in the North Trail area, she says in a letter to commissioners.

READ: Chief's request to commissioners

"It's unconstitutional. It's Un-American," Shabazz said.

In a letter to city commissioners, DiPino says "We are seeing chronic threats and incidents related to alcohol, firearm, narcotics and disorderly conduct."

Police records show between Jan. 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, there were 539 service calls that include 224 calls for vehicle stops, 86 noise and nuisance call,s 15 fights, 20 assault and battery cases and four calls for shots fired.

"None of my business never be broken into or damaged the only problem I have is with the trash and that comes back on the city if they had more containers we'd have less trash," Shabazz said.

The police chief's proposed ordinance not only limits when businesses open and close it would also prohibit street parking along Martin Luther King Way between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

DiPino will make the proposal to commissioners during their evening meeting session starting at 6 p.m.

"No one will want to come here open and create business with those restrictions. So you're killing the community, You're not helping it, you're killing it."

The Town Hall Restaurant and Lounge the oldest running black business in Sarasota belongs to China Smith's family. The Sarasota native and professional boxer (North American World Federation Champion) says the new operating hours would affect his business, too.

"The Town Hall business doesn't get started until 11 or 12 o'clock at night you're cutting down 3 to 4 hours," Smith said. "We are also serving breakfast now to the community. If they are talking about shutting us down we're losing profit and a lot of other things we worked so hard for and the community worked so hard for."

Smith believes both sides can come to a compromise. "I still believe working together working with the right group of people find other ways other alternatives to work this out," he said.

More information:

Contact the commissioners

ACLU sues over cell phone tracking

Major trafficking operation busted

Police boat extends range

More info on Chief DiPino


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment