March 23 • 12:40 PM

Does new ordinance jeopardize 'Gathering'?

Residents, owner hope Capac will retain computer cafe for youngsters

October 24, 2007
CAPAC — On the heels of Almont's own CC's Cyber Café closing, residents in a neighboring village are concerned that renewed government oversight could negatively affect their own popular hangout for youth, The Gathering.

They hope the news that owner Greg Spzaichler will have to undergo a background check, submit to an annual inspection and pay a $200 license fee, among other regulations, won't cast a shadow over his business that, they say, fills a void in the community.

"It's a safe place for kids, afforable, non-discriminatory and well-supervised. We're very glad to be neighbors with him," Capac Library Director Linda Aquinaga said of the club.

"We offer computers that they can play on but he gives them the chance to have that competitive play for that age group that's lost in the middle."

Members can play their favorite games on any of The Gathering's 20 Playstations, XBoxes, XBox320s and compueters. Open since January, Greg and wife, Peggy, also host tournaments on weekends, sell snacks and offer tutoring.

Szpaichler said he's not exactly sure how the ordinance will apply to him and is discouraged by the outcome.

"We have computers, not gaming machines," he said.

"This (ordinance) is for buildings for public use. We were never public, players have to have a membership."

The Szpaichlers feel that the conversation over how to regulate such a place as theirs is detrimental for business.

"This is a place for kids to feel safe and for parents to know they are safe," Greg said.

Village Council President Mark Klug said Capac is not targeting The Gathering and hopes to see the business succeed. The village has always had an arcade ordinance and feels it's necessary to maintain control over any type of gaming.

"We have to have rules and this is one of them," Klug said.

The revised document was approved by the village council at their Oct. 22 meeting after months of discussion. Now, any business with a gaming machine is subject to the regulations.

Almont Village Manager Gerald Oakes confirmed that their ordinances did address arcades but only in that they could not be located in the central business district, only in commercially-zoned areas, unless a special provision is granted.

Oakes said that the village did not consider CC's to be an arcade but a computer cafe, therefore, the ordinance did not apply to them.

Assistant Editor
Castle Creek
03 - 23 - 19
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