The Baxter Bulletin reports that the Mountain Home narrowly approved a city ordinance to take advantage of a new state law that allows public consumption of alcohol in designated entertainment districts.
The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Trent Garner for his hometown of El Dorado and its new Murphy Arts District, but it had support from other cities, including Little Rock where some hope for public consumption to be allowed in the River Market District. Texarkana has also indicated interest.
As best I can tell, no formal process has begun to designate an entertainment district in Little Rock for purposes of using the new law. I’d guess there’d be some opposition. The Family Council opposed the state legislation. Some businesses in the River Market area have expressed concern in the past about the heavy emphasis on bars in the district. The area’s development as an entertainment district is seen by others as a boon such as Beale Street in Memphis or Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
UPDATE: Stephanie Jackson, a PR representative for the mayor, said:
Yes, Mayor Scott, LRCVB, and LRPD are working to propose an entertainment district as authorized by the new state law.
In Mountain Home, the vote of Mayor Hillrey Adams was necessary to decide the issue, with Adams providing the decisive aye in a 5-3 vote. Originally, the ordinance proposed an entertainment district that would allow public consumption from 4:30 p.m. to midnight every day on 12 downtown blocks, but the district’s width was narrowed by a block on each end.
The entertainment district, which will run downtown from Hickory Street to Church Street and from 5th Street to 8th Street, will open on July 24. Visitors to the district between the hours of 4:30 p.m. and midnight daily would be permitted to leave a restaurant or bar with a single commercially branded paper or plastic cup of alcohol. Patrons could then drink that alcohol while walking around the entertainment district.
District merchants have agreed to restrict alcohol sales to in-store purchases on the nights that Mountain Home’s Friday Night Block Party is being held downtown, Adams told the City Council on Thursday night.