Mike's Place is seen on Roosevelt Road on Monday, June 13, 2022, in Berwyn, Ill. | ALEX ROGALS/Staff Photographer

Almost one year has passed since a rolling shootout over Memorial Day weekend on Roosevelt Road caused much distress to Oak Park residents who lived nearby. The incident stemmed from an altercation at the popular bar Mike’s Place, 6319 Roosevelt Rd., in Berwyn, which shined a light on the propensity of bargoers to park on neighboring Oak Park streets, causing brawls, disturbances and public urination. 

“It went from more of a nuisance to violence,” said Oak Park Police Chief Shatonya Johnson during a presentation at the village board’s May 8 meeting.   

As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the Oak Park Police Department has proposed an ordinance to implement a tow zone in the Oak Park areas most affected by Berwyn bar patrons: the blocks of 1150 to 1200 South Cuyler, Highland, and Harvey Avenues. 

“This is something that’s necessary for the quality of life,” Johnson said.

The ordinance would prohibit street parking between the hours of 10 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. daily. Those who violate the ordinance would be towed at their own expense, meaning the ordinance would come not come at a cost for the village.

“I’m 100% for this,” Stacey Hendricks, of the 1150 block of South Cuyler Avenue, told Wednesday Journal.

And the “vast majority” of Oak Parkers who live near the Berwyn border feel similarly, according to Hendricks, who spoke in favor of the ordinance at the board meeting. 

The village board was also widely pleased with the proposed ordinance, with Trustee Ravi Parakkat stating, “I want to move as quickly as we possibly can.”

Hendricks and her neighbors have been pushing the village for months to do more about the disturbances caused by Mike’s Place patrons and other Berwyn bargoers, who park their cars in Oak Park and return to them, often inebriated, in the early hours of the morning. A physical fight broke out right outside Hendrick’s home last Thanksgiving weekend, as a group of 40-odd bargoers argued by their cars after leaving Mike’s Place. The incident was referenced by Johnson during the discussion of the tow ordinance. 

“We ended the year with, where folks should be thankful and celebrating Thanksgiving, two officers being pretty much assaulted verbally by patrons of Mike’s Place,” said Johnson.

Since Mike’s Place is in Berwyn, the bar itself is out of the jurisdiction of Oak Park police who can only respond to incidents that occur in Oak Park, unless assisting the Berwyn Police Department. 

The village government has already implemented resident-only parking in the area, but without the penalty of towing, the move was not as effective as hoped. Over 2,000 tickets were generated, but only 36% were paid over the last year alone. A towed vehicle, however, cannot be ignored.

At a Feb. 1 meeting between affected Oak Parkers, Mike’s Place ownership, the police chief and police personnel led to the effective but temporary solution of stationing officers overnight on the blocks closest to the Berwyn border. That overtime detail was put into full effect last January. 

Police continue to be stationed there while a permanent solution is being developed, according to Johnson, who said the temporary measure is unsustainable but effective. Hendricks shared how the increased police presence has impacted her neighborhood.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about walking out your door. You don’t have to worry about being woken up in the middle of the night. You don’t have to worry about your kids coming home to a bunch of drunk people on your block.”

The village board is tentatively scheduled to vote on the tow ordinance at its May 15 meeting. If it passes, the police chief said she will work with Mike’s Place ownership to ensure the bar’s patrons are made aware of the change. Wednesday Journal could not reach Michael Lapinard, the bar’s owner, for comment. 

“He’s open to communicating,” Johnson said. “I would encourage him to let his patrons know that there is now a tow ordinance in place.”

Once the ordinance goes into effect, Johnson expects there will be an increase in calls made to police as bargoers will likely be upset that their cars have been towed. To counter this, police will be stationed in highly visible areas. Oak Park also got Berwyn police to patrol Roosevelt Road bars more regularly, according to Johnson, so there will be a “multiplied force.” A speed table will be installed in the 1150 block of South Cuyler Avenue this summer to prevent high-speed driving.

Police will rely on vehicle registration, as well as guest parking permits, to confirm whether someone has parked in violation of the tow zone. Should a resident’s car or a permitted overnight guest’s car get towed, they can appeal the citation. 

Officers will monitor the area to measure the efficacy of the tow zone and patrol neighboring streets, so that Berwyn bargoers evade being towed by parking elsewhere in Oak Park. If the nuisance caused by bar patrons does spill into other parts of the village, Johnson encourages the public to contact police.

“Please notify us so that we can address it accordingly to make sure that it doesn’t grow into a 15-year problem before we put systems in place to restore the peace,” she said.

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