An idea floated by the Westport Regional Business League to charge a fee to get into the entertainment district on weekend nights has been shelved after City Manager Troy Schulte said the area must maintain free public access.
“We have suspended our efforts to implement that particular solution,” league director Kim Kimbrough said Friday.
The entry fee was considered because the district needs to raise money to pay for supplemental security measures made necessary by increased crowds this summer, Kimbrough said, estimating that Westport draws 10,000 people on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Collective security measures, including private security guards, off-duty police officers and surveillance cameras, are paid for by Westport property owners. On-duty police officers also patrol the area.
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Kimbrough said the district added even more security measures this year, but he declined to discuss them.
“It’s a great asset for our city, and people have come to expect that it’s going to be safe, and that doesn’t just happen,” Kimbrough said. “There’s a pretty detailed plan that we don’t talk about publicly to make that happen.”
The proposed entry fee would have been collected at the five ID checkpoints that are set up at 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays to keep minors out of the center of Westport.
Kimbrough said Westport is in discussion with the city and the police board on enhancing safety in the district.
“After all the lawyers met, ours included, we came to the conclusion there are other ways to potentially skin this cat, and we are exploring those with our friends with the city,” Kimbrough said.