Mike's Place is seen on Roosevelt Road on Monday, June 13, in Berwyn. | Alex Rogals

Just after midnight on Memorial Day, an argument at the Berwyn-based bar Mike’s Place led to gunfire outside the homes of Oak Park residents. The shooting came as no surprise to residents near Roosevelt Road. It was a natural escalation of troubling behaviors they had already witnessed.

For years, Mike’s Place patrons have been treating south Oak Park as a public parking lot. Neighbors have had to live with the bargoers’ loud music, broken bottles, public urination, drunken arguments and physical altercations.

“We don’t want to live like this anymore,” said Stacey Hendricks, of the 1150 block of South Cuyler Avenue.

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Hendricks was one of five Oak Park residents who took to public comment at the Nov. 29 village board meeting to air their grievances regarding their local government’s handling of the public safety dangers presented by Mike’s Place patrons. The village’s handling, the residents say, is to ignore the issue completely.

“They just don’t do anything,” Chris Temperly, one of the public commenters, told Wednesday Journal.

Temperly, like Hendricks and two other public commenters, lives in the 1150 block of South Cuyler Avenue, which is about a three-minute walk from Mike’s Place. Parking in Berwyn is difficult due to cul-de-sacs, so bargoers park in nearby Oak Park, where parking restrictions are lax. People who don’t live in the neighborhood park there each night to go to Mike’s Place. About 30 cars are parked there on nights the bar has events, leaving residents anxious that another shooting could happen at any moment during the holiday season.

A shooting nearly happened the weekend of Thanksgiving, according to Hendricks. Between 40 and 50 people crowded outside her home after leaving Mike’s Place, she said, and a physical fight broke out.

“We called 911. Luckily, the police were able to deescalate it before it became a shooting,” Hendricks said.

Wednesday Journal has filed an open records request for the police incident report.

Since the bar is located in Berwyn, Oak Park police have no authority over the bar itself. Interview requests have been made to the Oak Park and Berwyn police chiefs, who were reportedly planning to meet to discuss safety collaboration after the Memorial Day shooting.

The recent close shave is what prompted the neighbors to speak to the village board directly during Nov. 29 public meeting.

“I assure you that we take all of these comments very seriously,” Village President Vicki Scaman told them. “We will talk to the village manager and notify you as to how it is that we can communicate with you.”

In the weeks since that public meeting, Hendricks said neither she nor her neighbors have been contacted by any member of the village board or village staff. Wednesday Journal has reached out to Village Manager Kevin Jackson and Scaman for comment.

Hendricks and Temperly both said they and their neighbors have routinely filed police reports and emailed Jackson and the village board regarding Mike’s Place patrons. Responses are reportedly infrequent. However, the public comments appeared to have taken Scaman by surprise.

“Some of what you have mentioned, I can assure you, not everybody at this board was aware of because I wasn’t,” Scaman said.

Wednesday Journal awaits the results of a Freedom of Information Act request for email correspondence records regarding Mike’s Place sent to and from the village manager and board.

While the neighbors are demanding village action, they come with proposed solutions to the problem. Many are asking the village to implement more severe parking restrictions and to tow vehicles in violation. Using cul-de-sacs to block access to Oak Park streets is another popular idea. Mostly they just want to see some effort made on behalf of the village to address the problems.

“It’s about doing something rather than nothing,” said Temperly.

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