07/22/08 — Goldsboro City Council: No alcohol allowed in theater

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Goldsboro City Council: No alcohol allowed in theater

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on July 22, 2008 1:48 PM

Paramount Theatre patrons won't be able to have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer at the next show -- at least not for now.

Goldsboro City Council members discussed the option of obtaining a permit to allow the sale of wine and beer at certain shows, mostly the city's performance series.

Theater Director Sherry Archibald brought the idea to the council's work session Monday night after a few groups who booked the theater asked about the option.

But, the problem that many see with the added service is that it won't help out the theater's bottom line.

"We need to be doing it as a service for our patrons," Mrs. Archibald said. "I don't anticipate this being a money maker for us. ... However, that's with us purchasing everything."

Another, more cost-effective option, she explained, may be for the theater to obtain a permit for each event, instead of a retail permit, so sponsors could donate the alcohol.

Still, council members weren't in support of the idea.

"We'd be the only people I know that would lose money on serving alcohol," Councilman Chuck Allen said. "If you can't help offset the operating costs of the Paramount, we don't need it. I just think it would be more of a headache."

Councilman Jackie Warrick asked what would happen if each group booking the theater obtained its own permit.

"Well, they would have to get liability insurance themselves, and it's too cost prohibitive to do it," Mrs. Archibald said, adding that it's also not worth it to the city if it's not going to make money.

"I agree with you," she said to the council. "I know I don't want to do this for a loss."

Other concerns raised by the council included the effect on downtown businesses.

"A lot of people go to downtown restaurants and bars before and after, and I certainly don't want to take anything away from them," Allen said.

However, despite the potential obstacles, both Mrs. Archibald and City Manager Joe Huffman believe the alcohol permit would ultimately help the theater.

"If you can fill up every date and every time without selling alcohol, OK. But if you're not filling up, it may help," Huffman said.

"Other theaters, like in Sampson County and Raleigh, have this," Mrs. Archibald added. "But it's not going to make or break us. It will just add to the amenities we have."

But at the end of discussion, council members agreed to continue operating without the alcohol permit for now, and asked Mrs. Archibald to continue getting feedback and keeping track of how many groups ask for the alcohol option.

"Leaving it like it is doesn't mean the door is always closed," Mayor Al King said, adding that they council will re-evaluate the situation in six months.

Council members also approved the purchase of the Paramount Theater from the Weil Foundation for $4.5 million.

The approval doesn't identify the date that the theater transfers ownership, but it allows city finance officials to resume the establishment funds and long-term financing for the transfer -- a process that will take a few months before the city can buy the facility.

But the Paramount Theatre wasn't the only property that brought discussion during the work session.

Stoney Creek Park also was on the council's list.

Parks and Recreation Director Sonya Shaw brought the new $5,000 design proposal from Kimley-Horn, but only asked the council for $2,500 since the Stoney Creek Park Alliance agreed to pay for half of the fees.

Most of the council agreed with the new proposal, but some wondered if the plan could be done in-house.

Councilman Don Chatman asked if the city planning staff could do the site plan. Huffman said the staff already has enough on its plate.

"And there are a lot of environmental problems with the park that Kimley-Horn knows about," Councilman Bob Waller added.

Planning Director Randy Guthrie said that his staff could do it, if they put other projects off, but for the amount of money the Raleigh design firm wants, it wouldn't be worth it.

"If you look at the dollar amount per staff, I don't think we could do it for that," Guthrie said.

Other council members, like Allen, said that he didn't believe the alliance needed to spend their money on this particular piece of the park, that it should keep the money for something else.

"Where did the alliance get the money they have?" Allen asked.

"Donations," Waller re-plied.

"Personally, I don't think they should do that. I don't see where they need to use their money here. I think there will be plenty of places to spend their money," Allen said.

King told Mrs. Shaw to thank the alliance, but said the council would pay for the entire $5,000 bill.

In other action, the council held two public hearings, one on a rezoning request by Juanita Mansour to change property located on the north side of East Ash Street between Ridgewood Drive and Spence Avenue from shopping center to general business. One person spoke in favor of the change.

The other hearing was held regarding a conditional use permit requested by Lorenza Peacock to allow for the operation of a used car lot on the west side of South George Street between Pine Street and Spruce Street. No one spoke at the hearing.

The council also approved bids for Wayne Memorial Drive water and sewer extension, the sale of city property and the reclassification of a city position.

Council members also approved the change of the first August council meeting from Aug. 4 to Aug. 11.