Mayor Nancy Vaughan got plenty of stakeholder input at the town hall meeting on the proposed nightclub ordinance on Monday, July 26 at Barber Park, but none of it was complimentary.
The old nightclub ordinance has been rebranded as a kinder, gentler City of Greensboro Safety Review Board, but the crowd at Barber Park wasn’t buying it.
Numerous speakers came to the podium, but no one spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance and several were clearly angry at the idea that the city was trying to place the blame for the tremendous increase in violent crime on the backs of private businesses that serve alcohol.
Several speakers demanded that the Greensboro Coliseum and other city venues be included in any proposed safety or security plan rather than have them specifically exempted from the proposed increased regulations.
The one speaker who tried to calm things down and put in a few good words for the city, Drew Wofford, the owner of Chemistry nightclub, said, “I think we need to go back to the drawing board and start over.” And Wofford was more conciliatory toward the proposed Greensboro Safety Review Board idea than any other speaker.
Phillip Marsh said, “On the Safety Review Board, all I see are city staff. We need representation on that board.”
He said, “There is nobody there to give a business perspective.”
The proposed board designed to help bars and restaurants with security after a violent incident would be made up of one member each from the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Department of Neighborhood Development and the Department of Building Inspections.
Jesse Kirkman, the owner of Jakes Billiards on Spring Garden Street, said they had shots fired across the street and couldn’t get a call back from the police. She said they had camera footage of the shooter but, “We can’t get a call back.”
She said, “We are the victims and now I’m guilty until proven innocent. Now I have to go downtown and prove I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Vaughan stated several times that this was a draft of an attempt by the city to help bars and restaurants with their security issues, but the crowd wasn’t buying it.
One speaker brought up the fact that there are more shootings at apartment complexes and that Walmart had more police calls than any other location in Greensboro, but the city was targeting bars and restaurants.
The town hall was scheduled to be held from 3 to 5 p.m. However, with many hands in the air of people wanting to speak, city staff ended the town hall at 4:15, or 45 minutes early. It would appear the city had all the input from stakeholders it could take.
After the town hall ended, Vaughan said, “I think it was what we expected. We got some good feedback.”
Vaughan said, “We know we have to look at other areas of the city, not just where alcohol is being served.”
Vaughan also said the city was looking at providing better lighting on Spring Garden Street and possibly some surveillance cameras.
She also emphasized that it was only a draft of a proposal that was being discussed.
Councilmembers Marikay Abuzuaiter, Sharon Hightower, Tammi Thurm and Nancy Hoffmann also attended the meeting.