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The sun sets behind Copa Banana on 40th and Spruce streets. For much of the Penn community, 40th Street is often seen as the border between Penn's campus and the rest of West Philadelphia, a place where the two communities mingle.

Last weekend's late-night disturbances at 40th and Walnut streets have reignited the issue of Penn's campus as a leisure destination for the city's young people.

At about 11 p.m. Saturday night, about 500 teens formed a riot-like crowd between the McDonald's and the Radian on Walnut Street and had to be dispersed by Penn and Philadelphia Police officers.

They had been prematurely removed from an event hosted by Strikes Bowling Lounge, located at 4040 Locust St., after fights broke out inside the building.

But this recent disturbance was a one-time occurrence, said Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush, who on Wednesday held a meeting with the owners of Strikes, the building's landlord and the Philadelphia Police.

The owners were extremely apologetic, Rush said, and are reviewing the structure of their management team to prevent this from happening again.

A breakdown in communication within the bowling alley's management is what led to the venue hosting an 18th birthday party last Saturday night, Rush said.

Strikes notified neither the Philadelphia Police nor the Division for Public Safety about the event, despite prior agreements to do so.

To add to the confusion, the party was organized by an independent promoter and attended largely by children from outside the neighborhood, Rush said.

As has often been the case, the McDonald's restaurant at 39th and Walnut streets became a focal point for the late-night disturbances.

With warmer nights fast approaching, Rush said DPS is well aware of the potential the fast-food restaurant has to attract negative activity.

To this end, DPS has been "working tirelessly" with McDonald's to develop a joint approach to curtailing disturbances in and around the restaurant.

At the end of last year, McDonald's agreed to remove the restaurant's outside seating area, and it has recently installed a new management team on its late-night shift, Rush said.

However, the restaurant has refused repeated requests from DPS to employ a security guard late at night, Rush added.

DPS has gone so far as to take this issue up with the franchise's national management team.

No other McDonald's in the country has private security protection, according to the national management team, and they do not want to set a precedent with the restaurant on Penn's campus, Rush said.

As for the summer ahead, Rush added that DPS has been working with the City's Recreation Department to develop a "measured approach" to juveniles from outside the immediate area spending their free time on Penn's campus.

"We want Penn to be a welcoming environment for the city's young people," Rush said, "but that does not extend to campus being a place where people come to just walk around aimlessly."

While DPS recognizes the lack of leisure options available to many of the city's young people and wants to work with them, the safety of the Penn community must come first, Rush said.

"And DPS is not done with McDonald's," she added.

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