Editor’s Note: The Diamond Club is currently open and did not close after the shooting in January.
OLD FORGE, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — The future of a Lackawanna County strip club hangs in the balance after a tense meeting Wednesday proposing to change the Diamond Club to a sports bar, but after a shooting in the club’s parking lot in January, some in Old Forge are hoping to keep the club’s doors closed for good.
A public hearing was held at the Old Forge Municipal Building on Wednesday regarding the Diamond Club in Old Forge.
While the shooting in January shocked those in Old Forge, some residents say that was just one more issue on top of several others stemming from the Diamond Club.
“I lost a nephew there. My brother died from his injuries there, from that bar. A drunk driver going there in the middle of the night, early in the night, hit him. Opening up a place like that, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire,” one resident said during public comment.
The owner of the strip club is now looking to get a liquor license and turn it into a sports bar with finger foods and “games of skill”.
Old Forge Borough Council held a public hearing on Wednesday to learn more about the plan and to give the community the chance to say their piece.
“Why do we need another liquor license transferred over from somewhere else? Why do we need games of skill? This is not what this town wants,” said Danielle Wenzler during public comment.
Owner Steven Krauss was at the meeting. He says his plan is to get rid of the strip club.
“As quick as we can get rid of it, that’s what we’re trying to do, but we’re trying to do it in a respectable and honorable way,” said Krauss.
But locals worry a liquor license will only create more problems.
“There’s no guarantee that the Diamond Club will close down so you ultimately are going to take a strip club, games of skill, serving alcohol and combine it all into one,” Wenzler explained.
Krauss promised to make changes that will make the pending sports bar more community-friendly, such as changing the closing time to midnight and adding new safety features.
“We lit up the parking lot, part of that was dark. We lit it up so the police department could see what’s going on in there. The last thing we want to do is come out in the middle of the night and deal with an issue,” Krauss said.
Many concerns of those who live in Old Forge go beyond the proposed liquor license and into the future of the borough.
“I think it’s not something that this community needs. It would greatly and dramatically impact the entire community in a negative way,” another resident explained during public comment.
Those who live by the Diamond Club say they believe its doors would be better off left shut.
“We haven’t seen a negative effect by the Diamond Club being closed, so I don’t see why we would need anything else open there,” Wenzler added.
The meeting was not to vote on the liquor license but, as mentioned, just to learn more about the proposal.