By John Burton
RED BANK – A pending settlement between the owners of a downtown nightclub and the borough council calls for the forced closing of the club for 20 days and the institution of conditions for operation that police previously imposed.
The borough council is expected during its Dec. 18 meeting to vote on a resolution and will likely approve the agreement for FIXX, 26 W. Front St., which had been facing police summons for alleged liquor license violations.
According to Borough Council President Arthur V. Murphy III, who also serves as the council’s police commissioner, the council police committee has approved the terms of the settlement.
The police department has also approved the settlement and its commanding officer has forwarded a letter to the mayor and council to that effect.
What remains is for the bar owners and their attorney to sign off on the agreement, Mayor Pasquale Menna said.
“Anything can happen before then,” Menna said about the Wednesday, Dec. 18, vote. But, he added, “I think we are in agreement” with the parties.
Calls to Michael and Kathleen Gilson of Little Silver, owners of FIXX, weren’t returned by press time. Attempts to contact their lawyer, Robert Williams, also were unsuccessful.
The Gilsons were facing a possible license suspension of up to 30 days for two summons police issued in response to large fights that spilled from the bar onto West Front Street at closing time on Sept. 22 and Oct. 6. The September incident involved as many as 200 patrons fighting in the streets and disrupting traffic, resulting in arrests and injuries, including three police officers who suffered minor injuries. The Oct. 6 melee involving as many as 300 patrons and required borough police to seek assistance from about 30 officers from departments as far away as Keyport and Long Branch, a police department spokesman said at the time.
The borough council was expected to hold a hearing on the allegations, initially on Nov. 13 which was rescheduled for Dec. 10. That session was canceled because of the negotiations.
Under New Jersey law, the council serves as the local agent for the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC).
If the settlement agreement is adopted, FIXX will again have to discontinue music earlier than closing time; have additional security on hand who will be required to wear clothing to identify them on-site; inform police and get department officials opinion on planned special events; and hire off-duty police for security at the police chief’s discretion.
Those conditions were rescinded when the bar had its liquor license renewed in July because there hadn’t been any disruptions at the location for some time, Police Capt. Darren McConnell said previously.
“We don’t want to hurt anybody’s business,” Murphy said. “But we have to discipline the situation. This is serious and we have to address it before someone gets seriously hurt.”