It's Friday night, and many people will be headed out to bars and restaurants in Westport, and tonight for the first time they'll encounter new rules on entering the area and parking their cars.
Back in December, the city council approved the ordinance. Now, the Westport Regional Business League will roll out changes to the way people enter the area.
Mary Wilson comes to Westport almost every weekend and says she feels safe, but she’s indifferent about the upcoming changes to security.
“I’m just more worried about it creating more congestion than it already has, but if it’ll increase the chances of safety then I don’t think it’s a bad idea," she said.
Security checkpoints equipped with metal detectors will now become a staple when people enter the two-block perimeter from Broadway to Mill Street and on Pennsylvania from 40th Street to Archibald on Friday and Saturday nights from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
“If someone is carrying a weapon then it’s going to identify they have one, and they won’t be allowed into the establishment. I think it’s a great idea," Charles Moore said.
Security officers man the area and people with guns and weapons wont be allowed to enter.
“I’m not an everyday gun carrier like that, but there are a lot of people that are and that’ll once again eliminate a lot of the business that people down here have because people feel restricted," Brandon Grossheim said.
The NAACP was against the change saying it could violate people civil rights. The city says they’ve set up accountability measures to prevent discrimination and can take back the sidewalks at any time.
Business owners are hopeful this will help secure the area.
“We’ve been in business here for 20 years, so we’ve definitely seen a lot of changes in Westport especially in the last five years or so. To see it more safe, I think is a priority for a lot of people," Venus Nichols said.
The sidewalk vacation helps free up about 45 officers who used to patrol the area for other parts of the city.
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