OTR, On The Rocks

By Kaytlyn Gillis

An article in the January 6th issue of the Kennebec Journal informed locals that Club OTR is at risk for being unable to renew its liquor license. The club’s owner, Mark D. Coulombe, is concerned that the club may not be able to stay in business if the liquor license is not renewed. This is an obvious concern, as alcohol is one of the main draws to this – and any – weekend nightclub.

In the same issue of the Kennebec Journal. Police Chief Wayne McCamish recommended that the club’s license not be renewed by the city, reporting that local police “responded to a total of 135 complaints in the immediate area of the club last year.” Now, I’m sure we can all agree that the local police shouldn’t be tied up on Water Street on a Friday night when there are people going 30 mph in a 25 on Western Ave. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that the officers are tired of this scene, and adamant about making a beneficial change.

The shock factor is that business owners continue to attempt to run a successful hot spot in the downtown area. How long did Club Liquid last? I don’t think the newly painted sign even dried thoroughly. And, does anybody remember The Edge? …neither do I.

When will we come to terms with the fact that trying to put a club in that part of the downtown area is doomed to fail? Its central location makes it an easy walk for most people, which would presumably provide more revenue for the business. Instead, the police find themselves breaking up the after-parties that collect outside because its central location leads to it becoming a place to “hang out”. And with Wal-Mart’s recent reduction in late-night hours, many kids don’t know where to hang out after midnight, repeatedly find themselves gathering outside this downtown establishment.

If the club were to be re-opened in a different location, perhaps it would attract a different crowd. Margaritas does not offer the same ease of access, but the police also don’t find themselves at the top of its usual guest list. If the club were to reopen its doors outside of the downtown area, perhaps we could eliminate a lot of the assaults and other drama that occurs outside OTR’s doors. If OTR is closed, then the (even more) limited options will force locals to drive to nearby Hallowell or Waterville, possibly increasing the amount of drunk driving, and certainly decreasing the amount of money spent in our town.

The problem is the (otherwise dead) location, not the business. Why deprive Augusta of the much needed business that this nightclub draws in? Many of the other local businesses benefit from the money young people spend when they come into Augusta for the evening. And really, does Augusta need less entertainment? The options are already too limited, especially for a state capital. The vibrancy needs a move, not a demolition.

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