A strip club on Buffalo's East Side will likely come under closer scrutiny after lawmakers branded it a magnet for trouble where "all forms of crime and mayhem run rampant."
The Common Council voted Tuesday to ask city inspectors to hold a hearing to determine whether to pull the licenses of Club Chit Chat.
But Gary Procyshyn, owner of the business at 1048 Clinton St., insisted that he runs a "respectable" adult entertainment club. Procyshyn told The Buffalo News he imposes tight policies to prevent problems in the club, which his family has owned since 1972.
Council President David A. Franczyk painted a different picture, saying Club Chit Chat has been the focus of nearly 100 crime-related calls since June 2007. Franczyk, who represents the Fillmore District neighborhood where the club is located, said the problems have ranged from deadly shootings to fights, robberies and drug-related calls.
"It appears that Club Chit Chat is a 'gang hangout,' where all forms of crime and mayhem run rampant," Franczyk wrote in a resolution that lawmakers adopted unanimously.
On June 13, Adrian Little was fatally shot outside the club, and two other men suffered nonlife-threatening injuries.
Procyshyn steadfastly denied that gangs frequent his club.
"If we were a haven for gangs, I would have a lot of business," he said.
The club owner added that most police calls involved incidents outside his club, where he cannot control what happens.
"This is the East Side of Buffalo. What do you want me do?" he asked.
Procyshyn said that in the 19 years he has run the business, he has noticed a diminished police presence.
"The longer I'm here, the less police coverage I see," he told The News.
The club owner added that 100 police calls over three years adds up to about 30 calls annually.
"How many calls has Chippewa Street had? But that's City Hall's little baby," he said.
Franczyk said some neighborhood residents are launching a petition drive asking the State Liquor Authority to revoke the club's liquor license. The Council has called on state officials and the Police Department to review the club's operations.
Also Tuesday, the Council unanimously confirmed James W. Comerford's appointment to the $85,000-a-year job of commissioner of economic development, permits and inspection services. Comerford has been the department's deputy commissioner for nearly three years and has been running the unit on an interim basis since January. He headed the inspections department in the mid-1980s under then-Mayor James D. Griffin.
In other Council action, lawmakers approved a contract that will allow the city to double the number of bicycle racks installed along business strips. The $62,212 contract would finance the purchase and installation of 150 steel bike racks. Advocates view the move as a major step toward making Buffalo a more bike-friendly city. The new racks could be installed by the end of summer.
Council members also agreed to accept $1.6 million in grants that will pay for improvements at LaSalle Park, a popular waterfront recreation spot. The face-lift will include a new playground, shelter, barbecue grills, landscaping and road work.