A rare scene broke out in City Hall on Tuesday.
Except for one noticeable man, all 30 or so community members and Sandusky officials in attendance cheered police personnel for clinching a long-awaited victory against arguably the area’s most problematic and now-shuttered hangout.
Watch video of the meeting in the player below
Tuesday marked the first public meeting after city officials forced the closure of Geno’s Party Center, formerly DJ’s Sports Bar next to Shell on Cleveland Road. The closure occurred a little more than a week ago.
Declaring this establishment a constant threat to public safety, officials mandated the property owner lock out the building’s tenant.
The eviction notice came one day after seven people were shot and one man was severely beaten.
But as sounds of people clapping reverberated throughout the commission chambers, South Larchmont Drive resident Michael Green remained quiet up until he stood up and sternly addressed officials.
Green questioned all seven city commissioners about why this problematic spot didn’t close sooner, considering Sandusky police responded to about 150 prior incidents at this location since 2010. The incidents range from shots fired to vicious beatings and underage drinkers running amok.
“The people and the community of Sandusky deserve better than this,” Green said. “It shouldn’t have taken the amount of time that it took to close this establishment down. People have worked all of their lives and lived in that neighborhood and have nothing to do with that establishment, (but their) lives were put at risk because this establishment was not closed down. How is that acceptable? I cannot sit back and applaud for a job that should have been done four years ago.”
Even though he bashed their operations, some commissioners agreed with Green’s comments.
“Mr. Green, you are right,” Sandusky ex officio mayor Dennis Murray Jr. said. “This community deserves better.”
Roughly three hours after the shootings, commissioner Dick Brady revealed he prompted an attorney to accelerate the closure of Geno’s.
“If I have been remiss in not making that call sooner, I apologize to you for that, and I apologize to this community for that,” Brady said. “That will not happen again under my watch. I will continue to be proactive, and I promise to you and promise to the community that we will not sit on our hands. We will do everything we can to support our police department. If we shirked that in the past, we will not have that happen in the future."
Green also asked why this establishment stayed open, even after dozens of complaints came in about this property.
Quite simply, the establishment didn’t have a liquor license, hamstringing police officers from more aggressively enforcing security there in the past, Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said.
Orzech, meanwhile, shot back at Green, defending his department and calling upon others to help shut down other troublesome places like Geno’s in the future.
“I have 44 (full-time officers) that I am responsible for, and I have had to send them out there 150-some times and 20-some times this year to face bullets," Orzech said. "It’s not something I take lightly. There are people that live in that area that I know. To insinuate that I don’t care or the police department doesn’t care about the community is senseless. It’s the community that needs to step up and say, ‘We are not going to take it anymore.’” We had done everything we could to possibly shut that place down.”
As of Wednesday, police have yet to charge anyone in this case.