June 12, 2013 | by Steve Charing
Block Party concerns spark debate
Baltimore Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Baltimore Pride block party (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A week before Baltimore was to celebrate its annual Pride weekend, a brouhaha developed as City Café owner Gino Cardinale and others met with the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association (MVBA) to discuss issues relating to the block party planned for June 15.

“There is concern from area residents and businesses regarding Pride’s block party this year,” said MVBA president Jason Curtis in a statement. “Concerns are mostly regarding cleanliness after the event and the underaged drinking during the event.”

At the meeting, Cardinale allegedly charged that the Club Hippo, Grand Central and the GLCCB’s vendor that serves alcoholic beverages are not doing enough to prevent underage people from purchasing drinks.

This led to spirited arguments carried out on Facebook between supporters of the bars and City Café.  From the bars’ perspective, each establishment maintains that it dutifully cards customers to ensure they are of legal age.

The City Café’s point of view as well as those of other Mount Vernon businesses and residents who believe they are negatively affected by the block party, is they want to protect their interests and keep the area clean. They charged there is urination and defecation on private property and much litter strewn around the neighborhood.

Club Hippo owner Chuck Bowers insists that his club as well as Grand Central consistently cards customers at this event. He told the Blade that underage drinking at the block party often occurs when kids bring alcoholic beverages to the event. “They bring the alcohol from other places and from coolers stored in cars,” Bowers said.

Cardinale said he is not singling out Bowers and Grand Central’s owner Don Davis but that more efforts must be taken to prevent such behavior. He cites turnover within the GLCCB for his inability to fully discuss and resolve the situation with the organization.  That is why he approached the MVBA for resolution.

MVBA’s Curtis stated on a Facebook post that, “the City Café never asked that Pride be stopped or cancelled. City Café requested, as did other businesses and residents, that GLCCB step up and start properly managing the event which they obtain a permit for. I won’t deny that it was discussed that if GLCCB can’t do a better job in managing this event, that the event itself should be reconsidered. City Café was not alone in this request.”

The boundaries for consuming alcoholic beverages that have been agreed to consist of Longrove Street on the east, Morton Street on the West, Read Street on the south and half a block of Charles Street on the north. Alcoholic consumption outside that designated area would be subject to enforcement of Baltimore’s open container law. In addition, people will be stamped to designate whether they are 21 or above or not.

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