07/10/07 — Council members delay decision on group's teen lounge proposal

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Council members delay decision on group's teen lounge proposal

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 10, 2007 1:45 PM

Parker Harris remained positive Monday -- even as Goldsboro City Council members told him they would hold off on taking action on his conditional land use request until their next meeting.

Despite Planning Director Randy Guthrie's recommendation for approval of the request, board members told the 19-year-old there are still too many questions about The Boot, the teen lounge he is proposing to open and operate downtown.

"We will meet with him," Mayor Al King said. "We want this to happen, but you have to understand, a lot of people don't want this to happen. Our city manager will be in touch."

Similar ventures have caused problems in the past, the mayor added, prompting council members to take a second look at the request -- deferring any action for two weeks.

Harris, who came up with the idea after hosting a series of live music events for hundreds of Wayne County teens, said he looks forward to meeting with City Manager Joe Huffman and other officials.

"I'm feeling like this is just another roadblock," Harris said. "I'm still pushing forward."

Still, he admits having to delay the opening of the venue will mean money lost on bands that booked shows in advance of the meeting.

But Monday's setback is just another bump on the road to his dream, he said.

"This is going to happen," Harris said. "If they say 'No,' we'll come back in six months."

Council members are expected to vote on the issue at their July 23 meeting.

Should they approve the request, Harris would be required to hire a uniformed police officer for all live music events.

"I already talked to (Goldsboro police) Maj. Hopper. He said I could hire an officer for about $15 an hour," he said. "That's actually a lot cheaper than I planned."

And it makes sense to have someone of authority present to help keep the crowds in line, he added.

"The more I have thought about it, the more I am glad to have the city in there," he said. "It'll make things a whole lot easier."

So Harris will continue to take an optimistic approach -- during his meeting with Huffman and other city staff and at the next council meeting.

He will do whatever it takes to open the doors of The Boot by the end of the summer, he said.

But maybe, a little patience and perseverance will be all it takes to see his "dream" realized. At least he hopes so anyway.

"I have a pretty good feeling," Harris said. "Eventually, it's going to happen."