WICHITA -- It's a hot-spot in Wichita nightlife, but is it safe?
The city is considering a plan to make Old Town an entertainment district, focusing on safety.
"It's a proactive step to continue the safety of the area," said Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation. "It really is a safe area, so it's a proactive step to say 'how do we continue to foster that environment to feel comfortable to where they come down, cause they do now.' It's one of those things that you want to be sure we continue to do as we go forward."
WHAT WOULD CHANGE
The proposal would amp up fines for any lawbreakers. First-time offenses would cost $500. Second-time offenses would cost $1,000 and possible jail time. Repeat offenders could be banned from the area.
Police would also have the right to barricade parts of Old Town to help control traffic and safety, said Wichita developer Jason Van Sickle, head of the Old Town Association. The plan will be up for discussion at the City Council meeting on May 13.
Some residents are not convinced the change would stop serious crimes.
"You're still going to have dumb people, but maybe if they act up once or twice, they'll stop after a while," said Wichita resident Brian Davis. "It might help. It'll be interesting."
Davis said he's comfortable in the area during the day, but he does have worries about things at night. Their fears especially escalated after the shooting in Old Town this past September. One man was killed and six others were wounded. The case remains open.
Van Sickle said that later this summer, Old Town may consider allowing people to carry open containers of alcohol throughout the district.