Council considers ordinance establishing standards for entertainment district
By Samantha Jones
The Eureka Springs City Council is learning what it takes to create an entertainment district.
On Monday night, the council considered a proposed ordinance that would establish the standards to create permanent and temporary entertainment districts. The proposed ordinance defines an entertainment district as an area containing bars, restaurants and entertainment where individuals may consume alcohol.
Alderman Bob Thomas said he's been working on the proposed ordinance with the Entertainment District Committee over the past few weeks, saying the proposed ordinance would not establish an entertainment district in Eureka Springs. Rather, Thomas said, it would enable the council to establish an entertainment district at a later date.
"It sets up the standards for a permanent district and it also sets up the standards for temporary districts," Thomas said.
According to city code, Thomas said, individuals cannot consume alcohol in the streets.
"Open containers are against the law, so anybody who does anything in the streets right now … they're doing it illegally," Thomas said. "This enabling ordinance allows us to set up temporary or permanent districts that won't have that law applied to them."
The proposed ordinance says the entertainment district would operate using wristbands or uniform beverage containers, both to be purchased through the city of Eureka Springs. Alderman Terry McClung said he wasn't sure about that.
"I don't know if we want to be responsible for the cups," McClung said.
Mayor Butch Berry said the sale of the cups would bring more money to the city, and McClung said the entertainment district should be responsible for selling cups or wristbands. Alderwoman Mickey Schneider said she's concerned about minors drinking in the streets.
"If all they have to do is buy this cup that anybody of age could buy … isn't this going to really, really cause some problems?" Schneider asked.
Alderwoman Melissa Greene said New Orleans uses the cup system in its entertainment district and it works just fine.
"If you don't look old enough, they're going to card you," Greene said. "Are there going to be people that can get by with it? Of course. There's always going to be that, but I think the cup system and the wristband is a good way of controlling it."
Thomas asked the council to approve the proposed ordinance on two readings at the meeting, saying the Entertainment District Committee would like to get the guidelines approved in time for a festival in October.
"What we're suggesting is we read this ordinance for approval two times tonight," Thomas said. "Then we have two weeks to talk it over with citizens and we read it again at the next meeting, and that falls in the timeline of the festival in October."
McClung moved to approve the proposed ordinance on a first reading and second reading by title only, and everyone agreed to do so except Schneider.
Also at the meeting, the council considered a proposed ordinance to raise special event meter fees to equal daily non-event fees. Berry said the city is charging a flat fee of $6 per space for a full day, while an individual would pay $9 if they were to pay by the hour.
"We're basically losing money on that," Berry said.
Schneider asked if the proposed ordinance would apply to car festivals, and Berry said it would.
"When we have special events that draw people to town … they come here for the event," Schneider said. "It's a lousy $3 a spot. Big deal. Point being, they are bringing people in who are spending money. You don't think out of good will we can keep it where it was?"
McClung moved to approve the proposed ordinance on a first reading, and everyone agreed to do so except Schneider.
In other business, the council rejected a bid of $45,750 from Windle & Associates for the property at 25 Norris St. and approved second readings of a proposed ordinance to add aggregate as a sidewalk replacement and a proposed ordinance to vacate an alley east of Kimberling Alley. The council also approved a resolution for the 2019 mid-year budget adjustment and agreed to spend $14,850 for a trial program that will identify leaks in the water system.
The council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 26, at The Auditorium.