The city of Helena conducted a listening and brainstorming session to help resolve a long-simmering conflict between the Sapphire Bar and residents of the Placer Building on the Walking Mall.
Interim Police Chief Steve Hagen led the meeting which focused on finding solutions to the issues of noise, vomit and drunken behavior Placer residents have said disrupts their sleep and has damaged their condos' values.
A half-dozen Placer residents voiced their concerns and relayed anecdotes about finding vomit around their building and waking up regularly at 2 a.m. when bar patrons from around the Walking Mall leave drinking establishments and mingle, loudly, in the streets.
The residents advocated for solutions like adding an awning, closing the Sapphire's doors during business hours and changing city zoning.
Heath Mason, the Sapphire Bar's operator, said the bar had instituted a number of changes to clear the outdoor area after closing time.
"We're trying to be the best neighbor we can," Mason said.
"There's no easy solution to any of this," Hagen said. The city has put police officers on mountain bikes in the downtown area to deal with issues, but said heavier enforcement when the bars close won't fix the root conflict.
Jennifer DeHerrera, the project manager for the Sapphire's building, said she and her team were working to make positive changes for the downtown bar, including the possibility of a sale. But for now, she said her group would work on adding signage asking people to be "good neighbors," and considering adding an awning and making sure new bouncers are keeping patrons in check.