HELENA — The City of Helena held a community discussion earlier Wednesday night at the Placer where residents expressed concerns about the Walking Mall near the Sapphire Bar.
Residents of the Placer reported not being able to sleep due to the volume of noise coming from the nearby bar.
In February the Helena City Commissioners terminated a Right-of-Way agreement that allowed the Sapphire Lodge to operate an outdoor patio, but residents say noise is still a big issue late at night.
People also expressed frustrations they had with trash, vomit and smoking.
Residents did state they don’t fault the Sapphire Bar for running their business, they just want the patrons to be more respectful of the area.
Owner of the Sapphire Heath Mason said he had heard the concerns and is more than willing to work with the community to help improve the situation.
“We’ve been working with project management and have had our people come out every night to pick up trash,” said Mason. “I’d love to lock the [patio] door but I’ve got to keep it open for the fire marshal. I’ve got an alarm on it and try to keep drunk people from walking out that door.”
Some of the suggestions from the meeting where to put up an awning to dampen the sound, place signage and increase 2:00 a.m. patrols in the area.
“I think what we got tonight was some good suggestions and we got the folks that live here who are having the concerns, the bar owner and the building owner all to interact and have a discussion,” said Chief Steve Hagen, Helena Police Department, “and everybody to understand it’s a much bigger problem than just sending police down and solving it.”
Helena Police have added increased patrols to the area this year, with two downtown bike cops.
Hagen said one of the problems with the area is that people travel through the area late at night due to the number of downtown taverns.
Mason also said he has begun to look for other properties in the area since the Sapphire is outgrowing their space.
If the bar was to move out, at this time, nothing would prevent another tavern from going in.