Crowd turns out for Bikes, Babes & Bling discussion

Even half an hour before the City Council meeting started Tuesday night, citizens were crowding into the council chambers. And indeed, it was a big night, starting with Mayor Lioneld Jordan’s state of the city address.

The Bikes, Babes and Bling discussion was next on the docket, and began with members of city staff describing the permitting process.

The only grounds for denying a permit is if it conflicts with another event or if the proposal is not open to the public, said Sharon Crosson, parking and telecommunications director.

Five departments must approve the application, including parking, police, fire, transportation and administration, Crosson said. In addition, four other departments see the request.

As an internal policy, the Walton Arts Center has first dibs on the parking lots around Dickson Street, Crosson said. When any event is planned for the entertainment district, city staff checks with the WAC before anyone else.

Such was the case with Bikes, Babes and Bling. Originally the applicants asked for July 15-17, but WAC had a conflict, so the dates of the motorcycle rally moved to July 1-3.

The city’s finance director said there was not a major spike in sales tax revenue for the month when Bikes, Blues and BBQ takes place. However, many factors make it tough to gauge the financial impact. For one, sales tax is delivered directly to the state and then the city’s portion is distributed on a monthly basis. It would be impossible to single out the revenue generated on a single weekend, Paul Becker said.

Despite the lack of a jump in revenue, Becker pointed out that the rally could be supplementing the intake for what would otherwise be a lean month.

If you’ve been following the Bikes, Babes and Bling issue, you probably already have a good idea of what the public comments were like.

Those opposed to the second rally said it had a negative impact on the city’s population.

Many residents said any financial gain the city gets from Bikes, Blues and BBQ was not worth the negative impact it has on the citizenry.

“When we measure the impact of something to our community, it needs to be more than just the economic impact,” Lisa Sharp said.

One resident suggested the council take over the permitting process and approve applications.

“We need governance,” Steve Frankenberger said. “We need this City Council and this mayor to look at these things and approve them one by one.”

Those in favor of the rally said it generated much needed income to the city’s restaurants and hotels.

“Let’s keep the welcome mat out,” said Jerry Patton. “The economic times the way they are, this is a tremendous buffer to bring in additional revenue outside the city.”

Brian Crowne, who owns and operates George’s Majestic Lounge, said the permitting process works.

“Don’t convolute an already proven system that works,” Crowne said.

Public comment ran for about two and a half hours. The discussion was a non-action item, so Bikes, Babes and Bling will continue to move through the permitting process.

Mary Robbins is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She declared Fayetteville as her hometown upon moving here for college. She is a Journalism graduate who enjoys live music, the outdoors and attending city council meetings. For more of Mary’s contributions, visit her author page.