Three months after Madison police imposed a security plan on Wiggie’s Bar (1901 Aberg Ave.), residents of the Sherman Neighborhood in which the bar is located are noticing improvements.
“The change in the neighborhood since the implementation of the security plan has been 180 degrees,” said Megan Maguire, co-chair of the Sherman Neighborhood Association. “There have been no disturbances, and I have personally not made a call to the police.”
According to police reports, there have been no incidents at the bar since the security plan was put in place on Nov. 30.
However, Maguire and other Sherman residents are worried that the security plan may be removed in May when the bar’s alcohol beverage license comes up for review before the Alcohol License Review Committee.
“I anticipate the bar owner [David Wiganowsky] will try to have the plan removed. Many people have indicated to me they will be adding their input in support of maintaining the plan,” said Maguire.
During a Sherman Neighborhood Association meeting in February, Wiganowsky stated his desire to return to the bar’s old operating hours in the near future. Since November, Wiggie’s has been closing between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m to avoid some of the stipulations listed in the police mandated security plan. Wiganowsky said he was losing too much money to be able to maintain his business with shorten hours.
Mark Woulf, Alcohol Policy Coordinator for Madison, also believes Wiganowsky will try to have at least some of the plan removed.
“It is likely that his license renewal will be separated for review in front of the ALRC, and it is also likely that Wiganowsky will ask for at least some of the provisions within the Chief’s security plan be removed from his license,” said Woulf.
Woulf said he did not know if the ALRC would be likely to remove the plan, saying “that it it largely depends on the issues as they arise, if any, from now until May.”
Attempts to reach Wiganowsky for comment were not successful.
Maguire has been very pleased with the results of the security plan. She says the neighborhood is in much better shape now than it was just four months ago, and she fears that without the security plan the neighborhood would go back to how it used to be.
“I was no longer able to sleep through out the night without being woken up by some disturbance outside, no matter what season,” said Maguire. “I think only now has that finally gone away. The neighborhood is really, really quiet now.”
Maguire, who lives just around the corner from Wiggie’s, said that she used to witness unwanted and illegal activity right outside her home.
“People would be drinking in their cars, there would be drug dealing, prostitution, and littering,” said Maguire, who was elected co-chair of the neighborhood council in January. “For awhile I had an impressive collection of empties I collected from my own yard, just in a month’s time.”
Police decided to impose a comprehensive security plan on Wiggie’s after a series of incidents last fall.
On Oct 26., two women were sent to the hospital, one with a knife wound, after getting in to a fight in the bar’s parking lot.
On Nov. 6, an unidentified person fired multiple shots outside the bar.
The tipping point came on Nov. 8, when a 49-year-old man was arrested in the bar’s parking lot, and police confiscated a knife, marijuana and cocaine.
Police finalized the security plan on Nov. 30, and the elements of the plan became conditions on the bar’s alcohol beverage license.
As part of the security plan, the bar is required to hire two licensed, uniformed security officers to monitor the lot for problems. However, this is only required Thursday through Sunday after 11 p.m. According to Woulf, Wiganowsky has avoided hiring extra security by voluntarily closing the bar early.
The security plan also requires the bar to: purchase an ID scanner; maintain and utilize a video surveillance system; maintain a log of all incidents, and share that log with police; post a notice of no trespassing or loitering in the parking lot; and prohibit loitering on the north or west side of the building.
I wrote this story in Feb. 2011 for my advanced reporting class at UW-Madison. I covered the Sherman neighborhood of Madison, WI.