LEWISTON — A popular Park Street nightclub in a controversial location has until next month to clean up its act, councilors agreed Tuesday.
City councilors voted at their regular meeting to put Club Karma at Altera, 16 Park St., on probation due to reported liquor license violations, noise complaints and police claims of finding people younger than 21 drinking alcohol in the bar.
Owner Stephen Wallace must report back to the city by July 17 on his efforts to increase security and cut down on underage drinking at the club, City Clerk Kathy Montejo said.
"The owners need to meet with police to get a full assessment of all the concerns police have," Montejo said. "They need to create a plan to address all of these concerns."
Club owners and managers must create a specific plan to address security issues and must meet with police, Mayor Robert Macdonald and Oak Park Apartments residents.
Neither Wallace nor club managers could be reached for comment Wednesday.
The three-story Club Karma at Altera got its liquor license and city permits in January. It offered food and non-alcoholic drinks for under-aged patrons on the first floor; dancing, alcoholic drinks and a go-go dancer's stage on the second floor; and a VIP lounge with bottle service on the third floor.
A memo given to city councilors Tuesday said police had received at least 10 disturbance or disorderly complaints at the club since it opened. There had been three disorderly conduct arrests, two assault cases and an indecent exposure instance. Police said numerous summonses were given to people for underage drinking.
In one instance on March 9 , police said they could hear music from the bar more than two blocks away. When they investigated the noise complaints, they found several Bates College students drinking in the club and observed club employees attempting to sneak underage patrons out the back door.
Police issued 11 underage drinking summonses that night, including nine to Bates College students.
In another instance, police went to the third-floor VIP lounge on May 20 and saw two 20-year-old women fleeing down the back stairs. The two had been drinking with an adult man and were given summonses. The man fled as well, and was later issued a summons.
Montejo said the club has hired a Portland-based security firm to check IDs and police the crowd while it's open, has hired a new club manager and will no longer allow underage patrons in the club. Underage patrons had been allowed on the first-floor, alcohol-free part of the club.
Club Karma at Altera occupies the same space as the notorious Club Adrenaline, a nightclub that in 2008 disturbed neighbors at the adjoining Oak Park senior housing.
Club Adrenaline shared two walls with Oak Park, but it was activity outside the club that angered seniors in 2008. They complained of drunken club-goers shouting, fighting and engaging in lewd behavior on their way back to their cars along Park Street and right below many of the residents' windows.
Senior complaints led the city to pass a temporary moratorium on new bars in that area in 2008. The Lewiston Planning Board considered changing zoning to keep bars permanently out of the area, but the zoning was not changed and the city lifted the moratorium.