Let's begin the new year with a bit of cautious optimism: It appears better things are in store for the community regarding a row of Union Street bars and restaurants that last year became a focal point for drunken mayhem and mischief.
An embarrassing string of incidents prompted a concerted, let's clean-it-up effort by Traverse City officials, police and, most importantly, the owners of Union Street Station and Bootleggers/Dillinger's, establishments that certainly earned a reputation as a troubled trio in 2012.
The bars generally are quite tame and serve as safe havens for locals who want a post-work drink, a little live music or big-screen view of sporting events, even a Friday night fish fry.
But late nights — particularly in the summer and on holiday eves — can be worrisome as the bars fill with a more aggressive and alcohol-fueled breed. Too often, confrontations spilled onto the sidewalk and street, oft-violent encounters that led to injury, property damage and other assorted crimes.
Bad behavior became too common and the Union Streets bars and some of their out-of-control clientele seemed to careen toward very dangerous ground.
Fed-up city officials waded in after some serious incidents this summer and made some not-so-veiled threats about liquor licenses and other recriminations. Bar owners, to their credit, agreed that something needed to be done and pledged to more closely observe their customers, both inside and outside their businesses. They also said they'd work more closely with police in an effort to stem problems.
So far, so good, based on a recent Record-Eagle story and comments from all parties.
But the proof will be in the June, July and August pudding. That's when the community will learn whether 2012 talks achieved anything, or chaos again will reign late nights on Union Street.