Voters could decide to change from being a dry to a wet county
(KATV) North Little Rock - Some communities in Pulaski County want to take a vote to sell alcohol. One of those is Park Hill in North Little Rock. Tuesday, March 26, the community will hold a meeting to discuss putting the wet-dry issue to the voters.
The community meeting will get started at Park Hill Presbyterian Church at 6:30 p.m.
State lawmakers are also discussing the matter. Senate Bill 374 was created thinking of Pulaski County, but could be used to other cities advantage. The bill would allow voters in the dry area to decide. It has passed the senate but still has to pass the house. City leaders in Sherwood and Jacksonville are also pushing for the bill to pass.
Holding up a map of Pulaski County, Terry Hartwick says, "Anything in red is dry."
Hartwick is the President of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce. He says it is an archaic law that's been on the books since 1955. "It's for economic development; we can make it like a Heights area to some extent." To some extent it is. Park Hill has busy streets along JFK Boulevard. There are family owned businesses and places to walk but getting a glass of wine on a restaurant patio is a challenge.
There are a few locations like La Salsa Mexican Restaurant that have a private club license. You have to be a member to order a drink and some customers call it inconvenient.
Hartwick adds, "I don't think if we pass it, all the sudden you're going to see people rush out there. Let's say you want to open a restaurant, it's just one deterrent you don't have to go through."
The vision for Park Hill is restaurants, wine bars and bistros selling alcohol, not liquor stores.
Hartwick concludes, "My goal is simply, it's putting people to work and having the opportunity to revitalize the area. More people in the area is good for sales tax, mine is more of an economic development issue."
If the bill does not pass, cities can still attempt to have a vote. First they would need 30-percent of the voters in the dry area to sign a petition. That 30-percent is a lot easier in a small community like Park Hill, compared to Jacksonville or Sherwood.