Ordinances aimed at improving nightlife safety

New ordinances to increase safety in Providence are being applauded by two organizations concerned with the downtown nightlife economy.

Anthony Santurri, who has organized a coalition of club owners, said attention to nightclub safety will benefit everyone in the city. Past years of mayhem and violence outside the clubs have created a fear that keeps people away, not just from the clubs, from all downtown businesses.

"Restaurants, lounges, cigar bars, place where people gather, coffee shops and maybe later would go out to a nightclub, absolutely they won't," Santurri said.

At his club, he takes extra steps to insure there is no fighting or underage drinking. He hires police details, trains his employees, and puts into practice measures like refusing out-of-town limousines and party busses that have not made reservations.

Frank La Torre is another proponent of improving the atmosphere in Providence after dark. He said the city has newly begun cracking down on clubs that do not adhere to current rules and regulations. And he said there's a growing movement, incorporating many stakeholders, that is intent on improving the scene and driving the offending establishments out of the game.

"Those that are outside the norm, those who think they can continually violate the law and get away with it time and time again are being given a message now by everyone in the community, by the elected officials, by people within city government, by the business community and the residents: You're not welcome here. That is not going to happen anymore," La Torre said.

New ordinances include a requirement that parking lots keep an attendant on duty until the clubs close, new background check requirements for event promoters, stricter rules for entertainment licenses, and training for floor hosts, formerly known as bouncers.

While Santurri knows businesses in general resist new regulations, he said it's in their own best interests for everyone involved in Providence nightlife to embrace these measures.

La Torre said improvements, like the staggered closing hours that prevent some of the crush of clubgoers exiting the bars at the same time on weekends, have already made the Downcity area much more civilized than it was just a few years ago.

"They have greatly improved in downtown Providence. (Nightclub owners) have gotten the message," La Torre said.

Both men said they believe the downtown can benefit from even more nightlife activity as the scene becomes safer.