Reporting Bob Roberts
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STONE PARK, Ill. (CBS) — It is unclear whether a strip club will open as scheduled next door to a Roman Catholic convent in west suburban Stone Park.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, efforts continue by the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo religious order and their supporters in an attempt to block the “Get It” gentlemen’s club. Its back wall is mere inches from the convent fence, and about 100 feet from a portion of the facility used as a retirement home by the religious order.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports
Lake Street remains torn up in front of the club, and attorney Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society said permit issues remain. But he said it sounds as if the club is preparing to open Monday, as scheduled.
“We do know that they have been practicing. There’s been loud music coming from the facility at various times of the day,” Breen said. “At this time, though, they are delayed. They have really been fluffing their chests out, but they still have permit issues to deal with, basic life safety and other health issues to deal with.”
Breen said legal action is being prepared, and will be filed immediately if the club opens for business.
The nuns and their supporters say a myriad of laws make the club illegal, if for no other reason because it is next to the convent.
The Thomas More Society, a Catholic organization that is working with opponents, earlier this month faxed and wrote Village Attorney Dean Krone and the owner of Get It Entertainment, LLC, Robert Itzkow, restating its belief that the presence of three chapels on the convent property makes it illegal under the Illinois Liquor Control Act.
Breen said he believes that the village board discussed the club in closed-door session two weeks ago, under the guise of potential or existing litigation, but cannot be certain.
A representative of the Village of Stone Park told WBBM Newsradio that if media want to know the status of the permits and licenses for the club, they will have to file requests under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
Some of the nuns at the convent addressed their objections to the strip club back in February. Sister Marcana Zambiasi told CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov that the nuns don’t object only to the fact that the strip club would be in sight of their convent, but that it exists at all so close to a residential area.
“We are not concerned only about ourselves here, but about the neighborhood children,” Zambiasi said.
The nuns are not alone in their opposition to the strip club.
Ronald Serpico, the mayor of neighboring Melrose Park said in February, “I am shocked and sickened by the placement of an adult entertainment business immediately adjacent to residential areas of Melrose Park. The siting and construction of this business, which was authorized by the Village of Stone Park, was not only ill thought-out, but I can only assume that no consideration for neighboring residents was given at all.”
“I don’t think overturning the decision is legally possible,” he said in March.
For generations, the small suburb Stone Park has been infamous as a seedy place, with strip clubs and adult bookstores lining the major roadways, prostitutes working the streets, and organized crime figures running the show.
Legend has it that Al Capone himself ran a brewery in Stone Park during the Great Depression.
But current Stone Park Mayor Beniamino Mazzulla has said in published reports that he is trying to shake the sleazy image in the town.