Urban Pioneer Group (UPG), a private event space at 7503 Madison St., was issued a notice of emergency closure of liquor-related business activities from Mayor Rory Hoskins, who serves as the liquor commissioner of Forest Park.
The order states that effective June 8 at 5 p.m., UPG has been ordered to “cease all alcoholic liquor sales, service and delivery.” A hearing before the liquor commissioner is scheduled for June 15.
The notice of closure states that the liquor commissioner has “cause to believe that continued sale, delivery and service of alcoholic liquor presents an imminent threat to the health and welfare of the community.”
Alleged problems stemming from UPG itemized in the closure notice are repeated sale of liquor to intoxicated people, repeated playing of loud music, and failure of the liquor licensee to stop patrons from causing public disturbances.
All other operations not involving liquor are not affected, according to the notice.
The notice was delivered after police responded to incidents on Sunday, June 6, around 7:54 p.m. involving patrons of an event at UPG. According to police reports, officers were called to the 400 block of Marengo Avenue because a group of people was “tailgating, being loud, and passing drinks back and forth before getting into their vehicles,” according to the police report.
Two officers initiated contact with members of the group, but the drivers of the vehicles pulled their cars out of the parking spaces they were in and drove at a high rate of speed northbound on Marengo Avenue, which runs one-way in the opposite direction. After the first car began driving the wrong way down Marengo Avenue, officers allegedly advised the other car drivers that the street was one-way, but the drivers proceeded northbound anyway. The incident was captured on squad car video, and citations have been sent via certified mail to the owners.
According to the police report the same vehicles were involved in a parking complaint and a party complaint earlier in the day as people exited an event at UPG.
Additionally, the police department received two calls, one at 2:21 p.m. and a second at 3:24 p.m. regarding loud music from the rooftop deck at UPG, after which the DJ and music were moved inside. An employee on the scene told police that there was a miscommunication regarding the location of the DJ, who should never have been outside, according to the police department call log.
At 6:20 p.m., police were called because a group from a party at UPG were allegedly drinking outside on the 7500 block of Madison Street and leaving empty bottles on the sidewalk.
UPG owner Tom Kunkel said that the party held at 7503 Madison St. on June 6 was not a UPG event but an event coordinated by a family member of the building owner. Kunkel leases space at that location for UPG but does not own the building. The liquor license at the space, however, is in Kunkel’s name, and he said that going forward, he and UPG will be managing all events and vetting anyone who wants to have an event in the space.
Kunkel said the following in a statement to the Review: “We are proud to be a venue that offers a unique space in Forest Park and look forward to many more years of providing an amazing experience for our clientele. At the same time we are acutely aware of the recent disturbances on Madison Street. We have always been conscientious of security, noise and crowd control issues and are confident we will be able to work with the village to implement additional policies, safeguards and protocols that will assist our local government and police in ensuring the safety of our citizens and businesses.”
UPG is also in the spotlight for Mothers’ Day incidents that allegedly involved patrons from a party at the event space. After that event, UPG was issued citations and appeared in local ordinance court on June 9. Kunkel’s attorney Nir Basse and village attorney Sharon O’Shea asked for a continuance to allow time for discovery. The hearing for the May 9 incidents will be continued on July 14 at 5 p.m. Kunkel has previously denied that patrons of events at his establishment were involved in the May 9 altercation, which involved a man allegedly choking a woman and a group of people verbally and physically harassing police officers engaged in breaking up the attack.