FIVE POINTS SAFETY

New name will not eliminate problems for The Library, authorities, public say

ccope@thestate.comNovember 21, 2013 

The Library in early November

THE STATE — File photograph

A new name will not change the issues surrounding the controversial Five Points bar The Library, authorities say.

“You can cover up the stripe on a skunk, but it still stinks,” Capt. Chris Cowan, spokesman for the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, said Thursday.

Some of the public feels the same way.

About 91 percent of the 551 respondents to an unscientific poll on thestate.com said reopening the club under a new name would not help lower crime in Five Points.

About 9 percent, or 49 respondents, said a new name would help lower crime.

The bar’s owner, Justin Kershner, said he would not comment on anything and would not answer any questions about a name change, including what the bar’s new name is.

Earlier this month, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the bar was a national criminal gang hangout.

The next day, the S.C. Department of Revenue told Kershner he needed to pay nearly $19,000 in back taxes immediately or lose his permits to sell alcohol.

Kershner came up with the money but then said he closed his doors temporarily.

On Nov. 15, Kershner requested a name change and is currently operating under the corporate name “Harden Bar Group,” according to Jared Glover, spokesman for the city of Columbia, who said the bar was granted a license as “The Library” on July 1, 2013.

On Sunday, the bar was given a citation and was shut down around 1 a.m. for operating without a proper business permit.

The city dropped the citation earlier this week and said the bar is legally open for business.

Throughout the controversy over The Library, the Five Points Association, which represents area bars and restaurants, has been careful not to participate in the public criticism of surrounding the bar.

Still, Tim Smith, the association’s president, said Wednesday during a forum at City Hall that there has been a noticeable drop in gang presence in the district in the past week.

“No gangs equals no crime,” Smith said. “Last Saturday was one of the best weekends we have had in years.”

Staff Writer Noelle Phillips contributed.

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