HAMMOND | The Hammond City Council is expected to approve an ordinance regulating city parking lots Monday.
Fifteen employees of AquaVor NightClub, in the 5200 block of Hohman Avenue, came to the June 24 meeting to voice concerns when the ordinance was introduced and approved on first reading.
"By putting a no-parking ordinance on the lot, it's basically forcing us to close our business," said Enrique Balerini, an AquaVor manager.
The ordinance requests all Hammond-owned parking lots be vacated and closed for public use from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Those in violation will be towed at the owner's expense. AquaVor NightClub is open from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Balerini said the restriction has a direct affect on the business.
Balerini said other than the public lot, there is barely any parking for employees and customers. He said the nightclub brings in famous comedians and big names in entertainment to Hammond.
"We're not bothering anyone. We're bringing people into Hammond," Balerini said. "We hire people in the area and cater to the people in the area."
Balerini claims the restricted parking signs deterred customers at a recent event.
A popular Las Vegas act that drew 175 people last year, according to Balerini, only had six attendees. He said many who had purchased advanced tickets said they canceled because they were worried their cars would be towed or they would face trouble with the Hammond police.
Councilwoman Janet Venecz, D-at large, the ordinance sponsor, said she created the ordinance to help alleviate crime problems in the city such as littering and illegal activity.
"Our objective here is to keep Hammond safe," Venecz said. "I'm sorry if it feels as if this is targeted toward them, but it's for the safety and well being of people that live here."
Venecz said she doubts the ordinance will be affected by the complaints raised by the AquaVor employees.
At the Hammond Redevelopment Commission meeting on June 20, the commission members also voted to prohibit parking at the 5210 Hohman Ave. lot between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller said his department received complaints of vandalism and gatherings in public parking lots by surrounding neighbors. Miller said having this ordinance gives his officers more authority to ask suspicious people to leave.