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Meeting focuses on safer nightlife

READ MORE: Meeting focuses on safer nightlife

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Between the streaker and the alleged drunk driver who hit pedestrians at Wrightsville Beach to the violence at clubs in Downtown Wilmington, the bar scene in New Hanover County has created a lot of problems lately. Leaders from around the state and country met in Wilmington today at the Sociable City Forum to try to make their cities safer.

"You can't eliminate risk, but what you can do is manage and mitigate the amount of risk," said Jim Peters, President of the Responsible Hospitality Institute. He says one way to do that is to control underage drinking. He suggests fixing the problem by creating activities targeted at 18 to 20 year olds, like making venues more live music oriented.

"To allow music as being the commodity that people are buying instead of drinks," Peters said. "So the more you can create a culture with music, which appeals to all age groups, particularly the young adults, the more you can create the activities where drinking doesn't have to be the focus."

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous suggested staggering times when bars close.

"Ask them to stay open a little longer. Not serve alcohol, but stay open to keep their patrons in so we don't have 10 or 11,000 people all coming out to the street at once," Evangelous said. "Maybe that's an option. It'll also help the cab situation."

Wilmington Downtown Inc. Executive Director John Hinnant is working with Peters to get the ball rolling and turn these ideas into solutions. Hinnant will also likely take on the newly-created role of nightlife liaison communicating between the nightlife operators and the government entities, police and planning. He also wants to look at making it tougher for applicants to get an ABC permit.

"One proposal we're talking about doing is requiring an interview allowing the applicant for an ABC permit to come in and state their case why they should be issued a permit," Hinnant said. Wilmington Downtown Inc. plans to present that proposal to City Council in August.

Peters says Wilmington is on the right track to making the bar scene safer. He says rebuilding Front Street, widening the sidewalks and putting more street lights downtown will help.

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Here's a good idea....close

Here's a good idea....close all the bars. Build a compound outside town and put all the bars in it surrounded by a 10 foot fence. One way in and one way out. Have security check IDs coming in and perform breathalyzers coming out. Legalize smoking in the compound and let them smoke all they want and stifle each other as they destroy their livers with alcohol. Anyone blowing above the .08, take their keys, impound their vehicle, and call them a cab. Have an onsite detention area for those who drink a little too much and want to rough house and begin to act tacky. No drunks behind the wheel..... Sounds like a plan to me......

Alcohol consumption is the

Alcohol consumption is the problem.

Alcohol--THE legally-sanctioned-by-the-government recreational drug-- is becoming more and more a serious social problem.

As people wise up to its destructiveness, drinking alcohol--like smoking-- will gradually become more socially unacceptable.

And this day cannot come too soon.

All of that sounds great

BUT, until the DA and Judicial System get tough and begin enforcing the laws, it won't work.

Until repeat Offenders are sent to jail, it won't work.

Until bail amounts, for repeat offenders are set sufficently high, it won't work.

And when inefficient and unprofessional members of the DA division are so slipshod that someone who blew .14 has his charge dismissed, it won't be taken seriously.

And when that aforementioned individual retains his job as Fire Chief, his employer makes a mockery of the judicial system. I wonder if they discussed his transgression with their Insurance Carrier to determine how the Insurance Company feels about someone driving a Town Vehicle after being ticketed for DWI and having his charge dismissed on a legal technicality and fumble by the DA? I know the answer to that one.

You can talk about all these proposed solutions you want; but until there is strict enforcement and stern penalties at the Bar of Justice, it will not work.


thats great about the bar changes. But lets not punish new owners in an old potentialy bad location for others mistakes. its not fair to the present landlord or to the new owners trying to make something great out of there own life, create jobs an further our local econamy in this great small city. dont forget that wilmington thrives off the service industry. without that this city would crumble. but i guess all the white hairs would love that.

Getting them to stop serving

Getting them to stop serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons would be a real start!! Underage issues are a concern but not nearly what the above issue is.