Letters to the Editor

Downtown needs enforcement

Your characterization of downtown Oak Harbor (Editorial, Feb. 20) as unsavory and dangerous is an irresponsible disservice to the vast majority of businesses in the downtown region. The Pioneer Way business area is a thriving region both in daylight and after dark. Most of the businesses that cater to nightlife are responsibly managed and do not have serious problems involving gunfire, fights or excessive noise.

The answer to the problem is not to move unsavory and dangerous establishments to the outskirts of town. This is antiquated out-of-sight, out-of mind thinking and, rather than solving problems, would most likely exacerbate them.

The answers lie in responsible management and law enforcement. We have laws governing over-serving of alcohol, laws governing excessive noise and laws governing firearms. Business owners must ensure that the laws are complied with. Compliance failures must be dealt with by the Oak Harbor Police Department and Washington State Liquor Control.

Since we have laws prohibiting indoor smoking, groups of people outside of nightclubs is something that we all have to get used to. Once again, it is the business’s responsibility to ensure that their patrons’ conduct is within the law. I’m sorry that we can no longer hide our unsavory vermin indoors but I will do my best to ensure that they obey the laws and are courteous to other citizens.

We also have laws governing loud exhausts and stereos. Groups of souped-up cars blast noisily up and down Pioneer Way every weekend. These are primarily teenagers cruising downtown as teenagers have done for generations. Perhaps stepped up law enforcement patrols with an emphasis on noise would help to alleviate this problem.

Rather than being part of a problem, the majority of the downtown businesses contribute, each in its own way, to downtown Oak Harbor’s fun, safe, and vibrant personality whether they operate in sunshine or by moonlight.

Stephen Despopoulos

Oak Harbor Tavern manager

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