LAFAYETTE — Gunfire, fights and other incidents at Shakers nightclub in downtown Lafayette may prompt efforts to shut down the bar.
Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Brandon Shelvin said at Tuesday’s council meeting he would like to research what can be done to force the business to close.
“It gives me a lot of heartburn. … Obviously, there is a problem,” said Shelvin, who represents the downtown area.
The councilman said city-parish government should take action before the situation reaches a point where law-abiding residents think twice about heading downtown on weekend nights.
“What we don’t want to create is havoc downtown where people fear going downtown,” Shelvin said.
Police have responded to 119 calls at Shakers over the past three years for a list of complaints that includes fights, illegal possession of weapons and illegal discharge of firearms, Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said.
“They run the gamut,” he said.
On Oct. 12, someone fired into the ceiling inside the nightclub, and in June, three people were injured by gunfire at the bar, according to prior police reports.
“It’s just getting pretty hazardous to be a patron in that establishment,” Craft said.
Shelvin’s question to the chief was blunt.
“What can we do to close them down?” he said.
Shelvin suggested trying to revoke city permits, such as the club’s liquor license or its certificate of occupancy.
Craft said the Police Department is in discussions with the city’s legal department about an effective strategy.
“When you start seeing those types of problems, that’s a sign that you don’t see a responsible vendor there,” he said.
The chief said he fears an innocent person may soon “get accidentally shot or accidentally stabbed.”
No one from Shakers was at Tuesday’s council meeting.
Shelvin said council staff attempted to reach out to the management of the bar but received no response.
Downtown Development Authority CEO Nathan Norris said he hopes problems with one bar don’t tarnish the reputations of other downtown bar owners who are making every effort to run safe establishments, but he also said the city should go after bad actors.
“We encourage, by any means available, to take those irresponsible bar owners and shut them down,” Norris said.
In other business, the council heard an update on the status of the Verot School Road widening project from state Department of Transportation and Development regional administrator Bill Oliver.
A project to widen a 3-mile stretch of Verot School Road from two lanes to four lanes between Pinhook and Vincent roads has been on the books for several years.
“It only lacks funding,” Oliver said.
He said the Verot School widening has been designed, right-of-way has been obtained and the state is now doing drainage work in preparation for the project, but construction will not begin until the Legislature appropriates the $24 million needed for the road work.
“When I came into office in 2008, I heard we were going to be under construction by 2009,” Councilman Don Bertrand said. “I can tell you I’m absolutely appalled.”
Verot School is a main route for densely populated south Lafayette, and traffic back-ups have worsened over the years as more and more developments spring up in the area.
“This is what we’ve got to address. People are stuck,” Councilman William Theriot said.