Goolsby says alcohol revenue should be used to help get downtown safe
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Wilmington city leaders have been brainstorming ways to clean up the downtown bar scene for months. Now that a young man lost his life after visiting a local bar city leaders say something needs to change and it needs to change fast.

Many people say the violence is a result of limited funds and resources to help keep downtown clean and safe, but when you take a look at the numbers there is money that could be used to help get downtown safer.

Safety in downtown Wilmington continues to be a growing concern and when it comes to finding a solution city leaders have different opinions.

"Since we are having all these problems with alcohol let's just add fees similar to what we did with sweepstakes to the bars so we have enough money to do the work but that's not fair to someone who just has a restaurant who happens to serve alcohol versus someone who serves only alcohol," said Wilmington City Councilman Ronald Sparks.

Some city leaders say without money there's not much that can be done to help clean up downtown. Others say we have the money, but it's not being allocated correctly.

"We're already collecting lots and lots of money on alcohol sales," said Sen. Thom Goolsby. "Let's use it wisely and if it's to protect people that's our number one priority."

Goolsby supports using money brought in from alcohol sales to help increase security in Wilmington. Alcohol is a contributing factor to downtown violence, but it's also a major source of revenue for the county and the state. In 2010 the Alcohol Beverage Control generated more than $200 million dollars in revenue for the entire state. New Hanover County contributed about $30 million to those sales. After taxes and expenses, the county saw a profit of more than $3 million dollars. Goolsby says using that money is the answer.

"It's one of the few sets of businesses we have left downtown," said Goolsby. "Everybody else has pulled out. We have bars and we have restaurants and we need to make sure those businesses stay."

After Monday morning's fight that resulted in a death Sparks says the city needs money and the authority to go into the bars to regulate.

"There's got to be a way to give our officers the authority to go into a building and nip the problem in the butt," said Sparks. "If our officers are in the bar and see under aged people being served we can take action right then and not have under aged and overly intoxicated people come outside and carry on like they did this weekend."

Wilmington ranks among the top in alcohol sales, along with Charlotte and Raleigh.

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Reinstate the street teams!!!!! Bar owners and the downtown business alliance complained about them giving off the wrong impression to potential clients and tourists. That message being, if you come downtown, you'll get harassed by the police. Now the message is, come downtown and you'll get stabbed. Hmmm, which is the lesser of two evils? One could reason that if we shut down a select few bars, The Rox and The Rhino, the violence caused by underaged, drunken "thugs" would stop, however, this would only cause them to congregate elsewhere. At least we know where they are going to be and can avoid that particular area. Over saturate 2nd and market with law enforcement and be quick to disperse any large groups. Without the use of force however this will prove to be easier said than done.

""It's one of the few sets of businesses we have left downtown," said Goolsby. "Everybody else has pulled out. We have bars and we have restaurants and we need to make sure those businesses stay." "

The main reason businesses left (such as the antique stores that used to be all over Front St.) was because of the proliferation of bars that catered to young drinkers like Marines and college students. Every time a storefront closed, a bar opened. It turned downtown into a mini-Bourbon Street. We are reaping what the city allowed to grow. I'm not saying bars don't have a right to open and operate. I enjoy going to most of the restaurants downtown. But really...does downtown need SO many BARS?

Yes we do. Among other things, like larger music venues and art galleries. I've spent many weekends in cities all over the state, and honestly, unless you're just trying to go out and eat or shop, there isn't a night life.

Besides, whats wrong with a Bourbon Street feel?
In one location, you have music, clubs, bars, and restaurants. If we want Wilmington to continue being the leader in a diverse night life sector, just have more police patrolling (not harassing- as has been the case from time to time) downtown.

why do we vote for these dumb political people. you dont know what to do with the tax money you have already.I know lets creat a way for us to get more money that we will say we are using for crime prevention. That is called the police.Wilmington can not even fix the streets in the town. The old stiffs on the city council are only intrestead on how they can fill their own pockets. The tax money will only be alocated for the conversion of a dog park or the azelea fest.Good luck Wilmington with the blind leading the blind.

No more taxes on liquor. The city makes mega dollars in the courts, and a lot of the money is alcohol related. If you increase tax on bars, then the bars will pass the increase on to the customers. If drinks become too expensive, the customers will go elsewhere or stay home. The city will loose money on a deal like that. How about this; put the violent people in jail, and keep them there. Abolish gangs and punish the bars that cater to gangs.
I don't want a POLICE STATE, but the police need to grow some nuggies and arrest the THUGS. That's why they are getting paid, and they are getting paid plenty. Tell the police to MAN-UP.