One year ago, an estimated 3,000 partiers gathered on a two block stretch of Wheeler Street in Macomb to celebrate the approaching end of the WIU school year.
Broken glass littered the street, numerous arrests were made, and a crowd control team was needed to break up the gathering.
The scene was much different this past weekend. Police were there to keep an eye on things but there was not much to see. Several smaller parties were held, no arrests were made, and no citations were issued.
“We had numerous meetings with the students on Wheeler Street and I think it paid off,” said Police Chief Curt Barker. “A lot of them acted socially responsible.”
The city council in March approved four new ordinances designed to control large outdoor gatherings. Barker believes those ordinances helped set a standard everyone could follow.
He said the emergency order issued by the mayor's office on April 26 also helped. The 48 hour order prevented stores from selling alcohol in bottles of 16 ounces or less. The decision to issue the order was made after city leaders saw video of a large party that took place at Kent State University the previous weekend.
“You can sit there and watch that video and you just hear the glass breaking,” Barker said.
Barker said the city took the precaution because it did not know late last week whether Wheeler Street might develop into a larger party again this year.
This is the emergency order issued by Mayor Mike Inman on April 26:
April 26, 2012 - EMERGENCY ORDER ON ALCOHOL SALES
I, Michael J. Inman, in my capacity as the Liquor Commissioner for the City of Macomb, Illinois, and pursuant to authority granted me in Section 4-16(a) of the Macomb Municipal Code, entitled "Emergency Powers," do hereby find that there may be a threat to the public health, safety and welfare from activities by members of the public within the geographic area of the corporate limits of the City of Macomb in response to the promotion of an event that has become known locally as ''Wheeler Street Block Party." I base this finding on the following facts:
1. In past years, this event has been promoted, scheduled and conducted over a specific 24 to 48 hour period of time by members of the public located in the geographic area described as a residential neighborhood area bounded by Adams, Pierce, Charles and Johnson Streets, for at least the last three years, on dates within the weekend prior to final exams at Western Illinois University.
2. Again this year, the event is being promoted informally among Western Illinois University students and on other college campuses, with anticipated attendance.
3. On the day or days during which the event has occurred, there has generally been a significant increase in the number of arrests within the City of intoxicated persons on public property for committing offenses resulting in personal injuries and damage to property, such as disorderly conduct, battery and criminal damage to property, and a significant increase of these offenses involving the use or presence of glass containers.
4. On the day or days during which the event has occurred, there has been a significant increase in the sale of alcoholic beverages from Class P licensees.
5. On, the day or days during which the event has occurred, there has generally been a significant amount of broken glass among the debris and refuse littering the public streets in the residential area described above, causing an immediate threat to the public’s health safety and welfare.
I have a reasonable belief as based on past events that this year, ''Wheeler Street Block Party" will be conducted within the City limits on Saturday, April 28, 2012, and into the early morning hours of
Sunday, April 29, 2012. Based upon said findings, I hereby enter the following emergency
All businesses currently holding a Class P package liquor license allowing for the sale of package liquor for consumption off the premises within the geographic area of the corporate limits of the City of Macomb shall be restricted in their package liquor sales in the following manner:
They shall be prohibited from selling alcoholic beverages in glass containers being of the size of 16 ounces or less, for a duration of 48 hours, commencing at 7:00 p.m. April 26, 2012, expiring at 7:00 p.m., April 28, 2012, if not ordered rescinded sooner.