Some Westport officials want to charge $5 to people who enter the popular entertainment district late on weekend nights. But City Hall should not rubber-stamp this idea to restrict access to public streets.
Generally, the public ought to be able to use the roads it built and now maintains. And while Westport leaders can gate part of the district off during the weekends — checking to make sure patrons are of legal drinking age — that’s a far cry from being allowed to impose an entry fee to the area.
As of Thursday afternoon, at least one Westport business was telling its followers on Twitter that the $5 fee would start Friday night.
But City Manager Troy Schulte told The Star that announcement was “jumping the gun.”
“This issue will take some time to evaluate,” he said, adding that the city and the Kansas City Police Department plan “significant legal and policy reviews.”
Westport officials say they could use the additional revenue to help pay for security expenses. But other ways exist to support those costs, starting with an increase in contributions from the businesses themselves.
Westport remains one of Kansas City’s prime entertainment areas, and large crowds can be a good problem to have. City Hall must be vigilant in making sure the public is not improperly prevented from freely walking throughout the district.