An Entertainment District is a fantastic way for our town to have a new draw. For visitors and locals to be able to grab a beer and walk to Basin Park for Music in the Park, or Folk Fest, or any event is an opportunity that should not be passed up.
I don’t think we need to rush for a permanent district.
The proposed ED brought to city council is broken up throughout downtown rather than being a single street length. This sounds like a nightmare to make clear to visitors who won’t know where one part of the district ends and another begins.
How will tourists know where they may drink and where they may not? Will the city put up signage? Will the streets or areas be closed off? For certain parts of town will the sidewalk be the line we draw?
It is a Class C misdemeanor to drink in public and these are things city council should discuss before moving forward with an ordinance, or at least let the public say something before they have an ordinance written. If nothing else to save City Attorney Tim Weaver the time of possibly having to rewrite it should council decide to make major changes.
Right now Ordinance 2283 states that an Entertainment District’s boundaries “shall be posted continuously in at least four distinct locations within the geographical boundaries of the district…” This is in Section 6. Creation of temporary EDs but let’s go ahead and make the not too great stretch to assume that a rule much like that will be used for a permanent district. If the district is broken up around downtown how many signs will that require? Four for each section? Seems like a lot of signs to me.
Let’s go further, how do those signs look? Are they police barricades like Oktoberfest has used in the past? I don’t have a problem with the orange color, but Eureka Springs might like something that has a visual look to match the buildings. Does the Historic District Commission get a say, as it is their purview on how the buildings look? Shouldn’t streets or items on the street be the same?
Writing an ordinance for a permanent district without letting the public have a say on some of these matters is a sucker punch to the gut. How can we make informed comments if the day we learn what is in the ordinance is the day we have to comment on it? That doesn’t give anyone anytime to research or mull it over.
I don’t mean to sound like I hate the idea of an Entertainment District, in fact I am all for it. I just want this done in a way that allows locals to fully understand what is happening. Whether that way is through more temporary districts to work out the kinks or a more public involved process to making a permanent district, I like both.