ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene could be getting an open container entertainment district downtown that would allow adults to walk from restaurants to shops with an alcoholic beverage in their hands.
Some Abilene residents and business owners say they fully support it.
“I think that it’s a great idea,” said Kayla Rollins, owner of K. Ellis Boutique.
“Revitalizing downtown and bringing new life is exciting,” said Brenna Camp, local resident.
“As long as residents are responsible with it and throw away their trash,” Jonathan Dempsey, local resident.
“We are really excited about the opportunity of more people downtown,” said Jessica Adams, owner of Vagabond Pizza.
The idea of a downtown entertainment district started after two businessmen approached city councilman Weldon Hurt.
“Anything that a citizen brings up, whether it be good, bad, whatever we need to do, I generally bring it up to the city manager,” said Hurt.
After talking with Abilene City manager Robert Hanna, they decided to bring the idea before council.
“First and foremost, we’re not promoting people getting drunk,” said Hurt.
The goal instead is to have a chance to make downtown more appealing and walkable to residents and tourists.
“It really doesn’t cost the city anything, and I still think it’s going to help tourism, and I always look at tourism as free money,” said Hurt.
Rollins says an entertainment district would bring in more shoppers.
“Like Fredericksburg, we go out there and spend all day, my husband can come, and we can shop, and he can sit there and follow us around, but he has a beer and is excited about that,” said Rollins.
So instead of going to one store or restaurant, people can make a day of it.
Some critics have said it could create more trash, but Rollins and Adams say they would be willing to put out more trash cans.
“We all know that if we mess up, it affects more than just our business, so we’re all very diligent. We want to take care of this community, that’s why we’re here,” said Adams.
Hurt says it’s always been a goal to retain young professionals in Abilene, and an entertainment district could do just that.
“Give them more places to go, more things to see,” said Hurt.
Nothing has been decided yet, but the city council will be appointing members to a task force, who will then discuss options and possibilities with the city manager, city attorney and other city leaders.