The Gypsy Blues Bar is planning to relocate to 205 W. 8th St. This location is directly across the street from the complex which includes the First Presbyterian Church, a child care center and a preschool. Contrary to the opinion of the Mail Tribune, I don't believe that providing a buffer of protection for our children from an adult oriented business is "picking the wrong fight". I would rather side with protecting children and maintaining a downtown that we can take our families to than to "minimize" the impact as the Mail Tribune has done.

The fact that this planned relocation has progressed as far as it has, is quite disturbing to me. I believe the approval of this move reflects poorly on the city government. Compatibility with existing businesses should be a prime concern for all of those in the approval process for locating bars in any neighborhood. In this case, the prime concern is for the children of the day care center, preschool, and children attending evening church youth activities. As children are protected from viewing activities inside a bar, they should also be protected from activities that often occur from patrons carrying on their activities in the immediate area outside the bar.

Many communities have city ordinances which prohibit bars from being operated within prescribed distances from schools. Many communities have ordinances which limit the number of bars within the community based upon a ratio of bars per population. I believe it is time the community leaders of Medford take a look at how they can provide protection for the children along with protecting the rights that should be afforded to the operators of bars.

I read a comment regarding this issue that stated the Presbyterian Church was being hypocritical by not "loving their neighbors". As a member of the Medford First Presbyterian Church, I know that this church takes great pride in its downtown location and performs vital community services to the local community. These services include a food bank program, tutoring, and general assistance to the homeless and drug dependant neighbors.

The local efforts to provide a rejuvenated downtown area appear to be slow but moving forward as evidenced by the new educational facilities and plans for large business enterprises to be located downtown. Certainly there is a place for adult social activities in a thriving downtown community, however, a master plan which includes consideration of our children and general business compatibility is a component in urban planning that is obviously being overlooked in the City of Medford. Does the vision of children learning and playing across the street from where adults gather to drink alcohol, smoke and speak in adult language represent the vision of downtown Medford to our community leaders?

— James Miller, Jacksonville

Gypsy has good reputation

The church really is barking up the wrong tree. The location that the Gypsy Blues bar was previously at had none of the negative aspects that the church claims. No scary drunks harassing poor defenseless little innocent bystanders. If anywhere would have that problem it would be around the The Office.

I myself was a patron of the Gypsy before it shut down, and it was an extremely relaxed bar. Most people who go to a bar, go to drink and socialize in a bar. Not get drunk and wander the streets aimlessly, like the church is claiming will happen. It seems that the First Presbyterian Church needs to start practicing what it preaches, and judge not lest ye be judged.

— Damon Nestor

More than just children affected

It must have been with a certain amount of glee that the differences between a church and a bar would become the latest controversy in our fair city. The uptight religious folks, those prim and proper Presbyterians, versus the wicked bar owner who wants to serve alcohol in front of innocent children. It's The Music Man coming to life in our little corner of the world. What a story!

The problem is that such generalizations seldom hold true. I am sure the "wicked" bar owner is an upstanding citizen working hard to offer a place where folks can relax and have a bit of refreshment while doing so. And those uptight religious folks? Well, they, too, are upstanding citizens who come for a bit of nurturing as well as opening their facilities to the larger community in a number of ways.

Are we exaggerating the impact of the bar on the activities of the church? I don't believe so. Much has been lifted up concerning the children who spend a great deal of time on our campus. All of that is true. What has not been emphasized is the daily contacts we have with the homeless folks, folks with substance abuse issues, people and families needing help for one reason or another. We work hard at trying to serve them while at the same time keeping the facility safe for the children we also serve.

In addition to the programs offered by the church itself, we have made a commitment to the larger community to offer our facilities to nonprofit, self-help groups. One of the groups is a 12-step program. Several groups include folks dealing with domestic violence issues. Such groups desperately need a place they can be assured a safe environment. Since alcohol abuse is often related to domestic violence, I worry about the proximity of a bar across the street.

The Presbyterian denomination has nothing against alcohol use per se. The problem comes when it is abused. In our particular situation, we are serving populations where even the possibility of abuse can be quite problematic.

— The Rev. Kathleen Waugh, MSW, associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Medford

Daylight hours are not a problem

I would have to agree with the MT in regards to First Presbyterian's opposition to the Gypsy Blues Bar's re-location. Rarely in Medford do you see a bar "hopping" with people during the daylight hours. If it is hopping, it's usually because food is being served and little alcohol is being consumed.

You usually have working class people in the bar during the day who are there to eat on their lunch hour or have a drink before heading back to work. So far, the statistics are just not there yet to support the church's claim that their female employees could become victims of crime.

I don't know what the statistics are myself but I rarely see articles in the paper or on the news about someone being attacked by a bar patron with no provocation, whether it's during the day or the evening. Thus, I would have to vote in favor of allowing the Gypsy to open without delay if it were up to me.

— Steve M. Ryan

Bars, schools don't mix

I am writing as an educator and grandparent of a child that attends the Sarah Corson Child Care and Learning Center at the First Presbyterian Church in Medford. I know of no school in the city of Medford that has a bar located across the street. I know of no teacher or administrator who would want there to be a bar located across the street from their school. Is there some difference because these schools are owned and operated by a church?

For three generations, people have chosen the pre-school and, more recently, the Sarah Corson Center of First Presbyterian because the schools have been trustworthy stewards of our children's well-being. 90% of us are not members of the church. We are people who work downtown or have chosen the schools because of the excellence of their programs. These schools have provided commitment and support to parents in their difficult and challenging responsibilities to rear children and build families. The staff who welcome and provide care for, teach, play with and guide children, including many with special needs, are responsible first for the children's physical and emotional well being and safety.

We have trusted that our children will be safe there. We know also that after school tutoring programs, English as a second language opportunities, after school youth activities and 12 step programs, are among the many community based and faith based programs that are going on daily at the church.

Substance abuse and alcohol are two key factors that can break down a person's

internal inhibitors against dangerous or abusive activities. This bar will be opening its doors at 11am and be in operation for 7 hours during the operating hours of the schools and 3 or four more hours during the evening programs. I am sure that it is true that a person can find a bar a few blocks away and manage to come over and cause a problem for one of these programs. But why increase the risk by allowing a bar to operate in such close proximity?

I am surprised that the Mail tribune believes that First Presbyterian Church should not be in opposition to a bar opening across the street from its schools. Does the Mail Tribune believe that the leadership of the church and the schools should abrogate its responsibility to provide a place of safety for those in its care? This church has been a leader in urban renewal and providing help for the people who live and work in the downtown community.

— Arlene Louis