WICHITA -- The Wichita City council unanimously approved an ordinance for Old Town to become an entertainment district.
Jason Van Sickle, president of the Old Town Association, declared it a victory for businesses, residents and the City of Wichita.
"The result of the fact that the City of Wichita and the Old Town area just wants to see the area continue to grow and continue to grow in the right way," he said. "I think this is a big step because it really mimics what larger cities have done and takes us to that next level of growth as a downtown core entertainment district."
The project has been in the works for two years, and it has been a collaboration of the Wichita Police Department, businesses in the Old Town and downtown area.
According to the ordinance, certain criminal offenses will have a mandatory $500 fine, which include:
Chapter 5.10 – Assault and Battery
Chapter 5.24 – Disorderly Conduct
Chapter 5.26 – Drug Offenses
Section 5.66.010 – Criminal Damage to Property
Section 5.66.050 – Criminal Trespass
Chapter 5.72 – Obstruction of Legal Duty
Chapter 5.88 – Unlawful Use of Weapon
Section 5.48.010 -Loitering
Section 5.48.038-Failure to Vacate Premises of Entertainment
Section 5.48.035-Loitering at Entertainment Establishments
Section 5.12.010-Tampering with an Automobile
Repeat offenders could face more fines or be banned from the area. City leaders said judges could ban criminals from Old Town as part of a probation; most of these offenses would warrant a one- to two-year ban.
The Old Town Entertainment District is defined as the area bounded by Central on the North, Douglas on the South, Wabash on the East and St. Francis on the West. Both sides of the street will be included in the district. Creation of these boundaries will help officers when it comes to enforcing the law, said Capt. Jose Salcido of the Wichita Police Department. He said the plan would not create a financial burden on the department, but would allow them to tackle problems in the area, making it safer for the community.
The ordinance will prohibit people from standing outside an establishment for a long time. People cannot stand outside a business for more than three minutes, within 25 feet of an entrance or exit. However, this will not include people standing in line to enter a business, smoking in a designated area or waiting for a bus or trolley.