The final vote of 4-2 Monday night by Eureka Springs City Council approved the third and final reading of Ord. 2292 creating a permanent downtown Entertainment District. Aldermen Harry Meyer and Mickey Schneider voted against it.
“This whole thing has been very controversial,” Meyer said.
In 30 days, the ordinance will be in effect but there was still uncertainty as to the logistics of the new law. Schneider asked Mayor Butch Berry, as she has at the last several meetings, for a list of direct and/or indirect expenses the city can expect to accrue from establishing this alcohol-friendly zone.
Berry still had the same answer – he said that department heads had not provided him with any additional expense estimates. However, he did say that the city would provide maps and signage of the new Entertainment District but cost of these was neither estimated nor provided.
When Schneider asked about the cups and/or arm bands the mayor said the city is not buying those and he believed they would be an expense of the bar/restaurant owner. When Schneider asked when and how the arm bands/cups would be selected and approved, no one had an answer.
Brews co-owner, John Rankine, said his business would consider participating but he is still concerned as to the legal responsibility it will bring to the bar owners saying, “Liability to Brews is an issue.”
Specific concerns Rankine had were in regard to people drinking outside the building or bringing in drinks from outside, and how many more employees would be needed to monitor that. Rankine said he believed more police would be needed for security, including additional trash/sanitation services.
He was also concerned with additional plastics produced by promoting the use of non-biodegradable plastic cups.
When alderman Bob Thomas asked if the 30-day waiting period was enough time to allow bar owners to contact the ABC office if they want to opt-out of participating in the E.D., there was no clear answer. Rankine asked the mayor if full information regarding the newly established E.D. would be provided to all the downtown bar/restaurant owners as to how this will work, and Berry said yes.
The Entertainment District is expected to be operational by St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
New commissioners blazoned
Other items on the City agenda that were approved: Mark Hicks, owner of Bridgeford House Bed & Breakfast, was voted onto the Planning Commission, and Cameron DeNoewer, owner of The Bear & Barber, was voted onto the Parks Commission.
Glass of water likely to cost more starting in March
Council approved raising the water consumption rates by thirty cents per 1000 gallons per month beginning in March due to the city’s costs rising. The water rate hike was approved twice and is expected to be brought to a third and final vote at the next regular meeting.
Aldermen also discussed raising the wage rates of the Public Works employees and determined that a workshop would be the best environment with which to consider all the costs in conjunction with the Public Works director, date and time to be determined.
The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 24 at 6 p.m. in the Aud.