The Douglas County Board of Commissioners discussed a resolution Tuesday that would keep the Douglas County Youth Center (DCYC) open until the population is reduced. County commissioners voted to lay the resolution over until August 8.
The county planned to move juvenile detention from the current DCYC facility to the new Youth and Family Support Center located within the Douglas County Justice Center, which opened last month. But the new downtown facility only has 64 beds and efforts to lower childhood detentions have not yet been successful enough to make the move.
“It’s a simple math problem,” Commissioner Mike Friend said. “I’ll use a cute analogy: we’re flying a 737. We’re trying to land it right now and we have 500 feet of runway.”
County commissioners proposed delaying the move until the population is reduced to the new facility’s operating capacity — about 80% of the total capacity, or 52 beds — for six consecutive months. If the youth center never reaches that bench mark, the transition would begin by January 1, 2025 no matter what.
The County Board laid the resolution over to give outside entities — like the new nonprofit Radius facility for youth on probation — time to see if they can alleviate capacity, Commissioner Maureen Boyle said.
“We as commissioners can’t do anything to change this,” Boyle said. “So what we would be waiting for would be external forces to see if they put money where their mouth is.”
Commissioner Jim Cavanaugh said the project has been a “fiasco” since the beginning, and he doesn’t expect Radius to bring down DCYC’s population.
“The average daily population of the youth center in the last twelve months is 71. Today’s population is 66,” Cavanaugh said. “If you think in the next 60 days it’s going to be 52, you’re ignoring reality.”
Commissioner Roger Garcia said he and other commissioners had also discussed drafting a resolution to keep both facilities open at the same time, but that would mean higher operating costs and a need for more staff.
City Council Denies Liquor License
The Omaha City Council recommended denial of a liquor license for the Throwback Arcade Lounge Tuesday.
After the unanimous vote, the state liquor control commission will make the final decision on the lounge’s future. Since February 2021, police have responded to 16 incidents, including fights and other violence as well as drug use and public urination, at the downtown bar, as reported by Omaha Police Sergeant Joe Mraz.
In October, the City Council voted to require the Throwback Lounge to submit a long form application to renew their liquor license, a more thorough process that gave the bar time to address concerns. Since October’s vote, the lounge had three reported incidents.
Co-owners Tony Pham and Breana Pham-Carr acknowledged the difficulties they’ve had, but the owners said they’ve taken measures to improve safety.
“We did have a strong learning curve in the beginning,” Pham-Carr said. “We’ve been working with the city hand-in-hand. We hired off-duty officers. We have more security, we hear from our patrons, than anywhere else they’ve been before.”
Patrons of the bar spoke in support of the license Tuesday. Proponent Michael Johnson said Throwback’s downtown location makes it prone to incidents, but the owners have done what they can within their control.
Opponent Holly Barrett, executive director of the Omaha Downtown Improvement District, said the owners’ efforts have improved the environment inside the bar, but she’s still concerned about the area immediately outside the bar, where many of the incidents have occurred.
“It’s things that are happening right there within that front door,” Barrett said. “What we worry about is…the fact that there are so many times, so many calls for the police to go to the business that they are actually a standing item agenda our security committee meeting.”
The owners have attempted to sell the business multiple times, which Councilmember Danny Begley said was concerning during this process.
“I think it was three times as was indicated that you’re going to sell your establishment…and then we find out that you’re not selling, then you are, then you aren’t,” Begley said. “It’s like Charlie Brown when Lucy’s holding that football.”
Councilmember Juanita Johnson said she was concerned that denial wouldn’t solve the issues, and that they could simply spill over to a neighboring bar. Sergeant Mraz said that was a possibility, but police resources are being specifically dedicated to the Throwback Lounge every weekend.
“I know in at least three instances of officers were injured while just responding to the scene because of the crowd,” Mraz said.