Reynoldsburg City Council Jan. 14 quietly shot down a request for a special permit allowing a pool hall to serve beer, but not without hearing from residents who clearly voiced their opinions on the matter – both pro and con.
Council voted 5-2 to deny the permit to The Spot Family Fun & Billiards Club, with council members Ron Stake and Doug Joseph casting the sole votes in favor of issuing the permit.
Michael Maszon, the owner of The Spot, at 1762 Brice Road, had requested a special exception use permit that would allow him to serve beer and food items on a six-month trial basis.
This process had been under consideration for months, and city council’s Service Committee recently recommended that council deny the request.
Resident Eileen Paley was among those who spoke in favor of approving the special exception use permit. She said she considers The Spot a sports facility, much like a baseball or football stadium that would serve beer.
"The facility was very nice," she said. "I think that (owner Michael Maszon’s) establishment is perfect for the area."
Paley added, "I need City Council to be concerned about bringing more business in the area instead of having a closed front."
Timothy Gilmore said he likes The Spot because they are a true pool hall offering league games.
"You go to a bar to drink, you go to a pool hall to play pool," he said. "As a local establishment, they can be professional and have alcohol. It’s worth a shot."
Michael Kohn said The Spot is beneficial to the neighborhood.
"Having this local is very convenient, and it’s also a good environment," he said. "I’d like to see this place stay open."
R. Glen Skeen said serving alcohol will be the key to The Spot’s success as a business.
"Pool halls cannot host many tournaments if they don’t serve beer because many tournaments are sponsored by the beer companies," he said.
Skeen attributed crime in the area to the low income of residents in the Brice Road -Livingston Avenue area.
"You are going to have crime in areas where you have less money," he said. "It’s not the alcohol, it’s not the bars – it’s the people who live there."
He continued, "You cannot let fear hold you back. That trouble is not going to go away because The Spot closes its doors."
Resident Bruce Sowell, who lives in the area, conceded that the community needs businesses in the Brice and Livingston area.
"The problem with The Spot is the location," he said. "Sure, he’s got a nice pool hall … We just don’t need an additional establishment serving alcoholic beverages. We have enough problems as it is."
Ken Wright also spoke out against approving the special exception use permit.
"I urge council to say no to alcohol sales at The Spot," he said, reminding council about a shooting of an underage man at Kay-Jays, a bar located only a short distance from The Spot. "Put yourselves in the shoes of the people who live in the Brice/Livingston area … The new administration is ready to deal with the problems in the Brice/Livingston area. Tonight would be a good time to start."
Chris Long told council the location of The Spot is an issue, and noted it’s not uncommon to hear gunfire and watch the police helicopter search the area in the evenings.
"We don’t need another liquor establishment in that area," he said.
Councilwoman Antoinette Newman thanked everyone for sharing their views.
"Their arguments have been quite convincing, pro or con," she said. "It’s been very difficult to make a decision."
Councilman Ron Stake said the city can’t afford to lose a good business.
"If we run this person off, we’ll never have a viable economy in the area," he commented.
Stake said he doesn’t see what’s so wrong about offering a six-month temporary permit to the business.
"If it doesn’t work out, we can take the special exception use permit away. I say give the man a chance."
Councilwoman Leslie Kelly said she is concerned the business owner isn’t working as hard as he can to market the business to families.
"It is up to you to make yourself invaluable to the community," she said. "I would encourage you – however this goes – to put yourself more out in the community."
Councilman Mel Clemens, chairman of the Service Committee, which recommended denying the special exception use permit, said he is not afraid of empty storefronts. "They can stay empty before I will support turning them into liquor establishments."