Seeking loss of resort status right move

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen took an important step to making Vicksburg, and the city’s downtown area in particular, safer.
The board Wednesday approved a resolution asking the state’s commissioner of revenue to pull the resort status from four businesses in the city, putting them under the city’s ordinance governing the sale of alcohol.
Resort status is a special designation granted to businesses by the Mississippi Department of Revenue that allows them to sell alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to the city clerk’s office, about 20 buildings in the city have resort status, which is assigned to the building, not the business. Currently, only four buildings with resort status are open and selling alcohol. Three of those also serve food as part of the business, and two of those restaurants are downtown with the lone bar in the group.
An incident in January at one of the downtown businesses forced city officials to close it for several days until the problem could be resolved. That action came after Mayor George Flaggs Jr. received complaints from people living downtown in the vicinity of the business.
With the city looking to make Vicksburg a family tourist destination, pulling the resort status makes sense, especially when it comes to downtown, which is beginning to become a location for retail shops and a residential area as contractors continue to complete the upscale apartments in several locations.
And while the owners of the downtown establishments have been doing a good job trying to keep their patrons in check, the people who are paying the rent to stay in a historic building or the walk out on their balcony for fresh air or get a glimpse of the moon glow over the Mississippi River don’t want to hear the sounds of a brawl outside their window at 2 a.m.
This is more than a move to stop people from drinking all night. Police Chief Walter Armstrong said keeping the bars open all night forces his department to keep extra officers in the downtown area to prevent altercations caused by alcohol, and that means less officers on the road patrolling the city and protecting others from crime.
Removing the resort status is a good move and the right move. While no one would want to deny anyone the right to have a good time with friends, its time to draw the line when that good time, fueled by a 90 proof elixir, goes bad and turns violent.
The board has made its move. It’s time for the state to bless it.

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