Bryan K. Fleming Blogs

Downtown Winchester

Downtown Winchester
Thank you once again Winchester Star for sensationalizing yet another story to sell news. This one has major impacts on many businesses downtown and you have turned it into a mockery. The other week you printed a 3 year talley on downtown police calls and made it look like the downtown nightlife was the cause of it all. This was a total misrepresentation of the facts. I have lived on the mall for a 3 year stint. I have ran a business on the mall and currently run one a block away. I have lived downtown all my life almost and have lived the last 3 years downtown. I have also worked and attended every social function that has occurred down there. For these reasons alone. This makes me more of an expert than some property owner you interviewed that doesn't even go downtown.
First off every law breaking category you stated went down yearly except disturbances and vandalism. From your paragraph in the story. Most of the vandalism was spray paint. I'm sorry. I have never seen a bar patron with a spray can in his pocket.
Next off the noise complaints have been generated from the new dwellings that have been recently completed on the mall and surrounding blocks. These tenants, if they couldn't see that their apartment was across from a bar when they rented it. Their landlord should have explained the location is on a highly trafficked walking mall. Renter beware. Your landlords were quoted as saying there is a high demand for these properties. So move. They can find another renter and you can find a quieter home. This is the first thing you should have factored in when your signed your lease. How loud are my surroundings? These venues are my clients and I personally am the noise maker on occasion at these locations. Since the new city noise ordinances were established. Every bar has bought a decibel meter and has handled all problems internally. The few complaints have come directly from tenants living across from a few of these locations. Each of these businesses have excellent security and deal with all problems that arise. What I really mean is... you have more than 1 room. Do you have to sit by the window and complain?
To make it worse The Star tallied in downtown assaults and fights into the story. The downtown mall, since it was created has always had a certain presence of people on it. They will be there forever. You cannot hold this against any festival or business. Nor can you blame this on the masses. These people will do what they do. They get charged & processed accordingly. The police already have a big presence in the area. There are foot patrols, biker police and no less than 10 units circling the downtown blocks all night long. Preying on people like a lion on zebras. If you pick up a crime times. You can see the amount of arrests for Drunk in Public. Do not hold everyone responsible for bad apples that fell from the tree long ago.
The final thing to address is the new event schedule we have for the Mall. Some local businesses benefit and some don't. Dario needs to learn how to incorporate everyone on the mall into the events and not just the area that is convenient to his festivals. Second these businesses need to adapt to the new setup like some have. Move a tent outside your business to better promote it. Have a tent in the vendors area of the events. Get involved more in the events or make your own event and partner with the business you want to include. It's complicated, but not out of reach. I would love to help anyone that wants to create an event to show their business off.
For the first time since the walking mall has been built. It has generated more people than ever. I myself have been amazed to what the new look and direction has brought. For every step of progress. There will be problems. We are handling them as they come and the downtown is growing like it should have years ago. Do not stifle this growth. Many people are depending on it. We have an area to be proud of. I see this in the amount of walkers visiting daily. Those people have finally come. If you're a business downtown, learn how to capture them. Do not expect them to patron you. There is too much to take in and every store is basically a specialty store.
Let downtown grow and strive. Don't kill it with bad publicity, more security and new laws to keep to local establishments from growing.

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