Members of the Little Rock Board of Directors held back from creating another temporary entertainment district during a board meeting on Tuesday.
City Manager Dean Kumpuris supported the motion for a month to table a resolution creating an amusement district for al fresco dining near Third Street and the downtown River Market.
The motion was approved on a vote, with Vice Mayor Lance Hines presenting the second.
The Third Street Merchants Association had filed a motion in April to create the makeshift neighborhood, according to a memo from the city administrator’s office that was attached to the meeting papers.
According to the resolution text, the district should be approved retrospectively from May 20th to August 19th. The opening times would be daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
As listed, the boundaries would create an area roughly in the shape of a square around the intersection of East Second Street and River Market Avenues to the north and East Fourth Street in the west to Cumberland Street in the south.
The area includes dining options such as Dugan’s Pub, Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro and the Copper Grill.
The memo from the city administrator’s office said that an outdoor seating area would be used by several restaurants nearby.
During the meeting, City Director Joan Adcock raised concerns about creating an entertainment district in the River Market area. She suggested holding the item until crime and caravans receded.
She said the end of school always increases traffic and problems in the river market area.
“I know the police are doing a great job right now to keep everything under control, but I have a real problem creating another entertainment district,” said Adcock.
Regarding the 14 officials assigned to the River Market, Adcock said she would hate to “see how we take on and water down what we do at the River Market by expanding the entertainment area at this point in time” .
She said officials had received letters from residents in the area expressing concerns about caravanning, crime and noise.
City Manager Bruce Moore noticed the existing entertainment district just a block away on River Market Avenue.
He said he believed the town was first approached by the owner of Dugan’s in collaboration with Gabe Holmstrom of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.
Kumpuris said he believed Adcock was right. “We’re a little hasty with everything that’s going on down there,” he said.
However, he suggested that “in a very paradoxical way” the creation of the entertainment district could reduce the problems in the area as people will be out on the street making it more difficult to “get around” which seemed to be an indication of the subject of caravanning.
However, in light of what happened over the weekend, Kumpuris motioned to pass the measure for a month “to see how things go”.
Although he did not say which events he was referring to, Little Rock police are investigating two murders that occurred Friday night as part of two separate shootings.
In the first instance, police responded to the 1000 block of College Street to investigate a shootout that killed a 44-year-old woman and struck a man with gunfire.
Hours later, police investigated a gunfight at 2400 Marshall Street in which a 28-year-old man was found dead. Two other men were injured in the same shooting, one of them life-threatening, the police said.
Little Rock officials recently approved the expansion of two temporary entertainment areas: one in the Hillcrest neighborhood and the other on a section of Main Street south of Interstate 630 known as SoMa. The final operating date for each district is June 3 and June 18.
Temporary entertainment districts allow guests to purchase alcoholic beverages from specific establishments and consume the drink from open containers in public while wearing special wristbands.
At the end of Tuesday’s brief meeting, metropolitan director Antwan Phillips said he did not support the decision to postpone the creation of the temporary entertainment district, describing it as a quality of life issue.
“I understand and respect the people who emailed me who live downtown, but as a city, and for my friends who live downtown, these things are part of life downtown,” said Phillips.