PEA RIDGE — A proposed Entertainment District for the area north of Slack Street between Carr Street and North Curtis Avenue was turned down by the city Planning Commission after it heard from numerous area business owners Sept. 6 during a public hearing.
City attorney Shane Perry left the room during both the public hearing and the discussion under new business as he has a conflict of interest. He owns Whistle Stop liquor store and is building a cafe on the east end of the building where he plans to offer music, food and alcohol.
The proposed ordinance would allow persons to walk around the defined area with alcohol if they have a wristband and cup approved by the city and sold by the approved business. It was likened to the Railyard in Rogers.
Several food truck managers in the area spoke, most of them opposed to the district.
“How about security?” Roger Waterloo asked. “We don’t know what people will do when they’re drunk. Who is responsible if something happens to our trailers?”
He also expressed concerns about trash, parking, seating and restrooms.
“Our customers are take and go,” Waterloo said, “and they want to park close to our trailers.”
He and other food truck workers said none of them have restrooms and all walk over to both McDonald’s and Sonic just east of there to use the facilities.
Tammy Pearson with Grateful Griddle said: “It’s on the agenda. Is the vote going to happen today? To me, it’s way early. You don’t have infrastructure for restrooms, seating, security … district within itself is a great idea, but without a plan, I don’t think we’re ready for a vote tonight.”
Chairman Al Fowler explained that there is a process and the Planning Commission could table, approve or deny the request. If approved, it goes to the City Council for consideration.
“I own the property where the food trucks are, and I own a few of them and rent them out. It’s good to have discussions, but from my point of view, I think the city needs an entertainment district,” Rigoberto Mendoza said. “It will help the city development and will provide an additional place to go and hang out. I’m in favor; it’s beneficial for whole community.
“In regards to the infrastructure, I have plans to continue to develop that property, including adding a permanent restroom and could temporarily bring in porta potties … in addition to a small pavilion … those items are in my plans.”
“I am personally opposed to this for the simple fact that one business is going to benefit and taxpayers would foot the bill for security, wrist bands, trash, etc.” city building official Tony Townsend said. “The burden would outweigh benefit for city.”
Nathan See, Street Department superintendent, said the cost of the cups and wrist bands would “not come out of the pocket of the city.”
“If the residents are not asking for this, I don’t see the point,” Planning Commission member Carolyn Wendel said.
Planning Commission member Dr. Karen Sherman concurred and made a motion saying, “I think we should decline the establishment at this point.”
The five Planning Commission members present voted unanimously to decline.