Westport leaders nix weekend cover charge plan

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Business leaders in Westport have decided to shelve a plan that would have instituted a cover charge on weekends to help pay for increased security.

The plan, which sparked outrage on social media, called for charging Westport patrons a $5 fee to walk into the main intersection of bars, starting around midnight on the weekends. The plan was set to begin as soon as this weekend, but Westport leaders called off the plan after meeting with city officials to consider alternatives.

"The issue really is being able to continue to provide the enhanced security in Westport that our patrons have come to enjoy," said Kim Kimbrough of the Westport Regional Business League. Business owners in Westport say that record crowds are pouring into the entertainment district this year, and more police officers are needed to keep people safe—and that costs money.

"We`re concerned about running out of money before the end of the year, so that`s why we floated the idea and unfortunately it got picked up and presented as a fait accompli, and it was never a fait accompli," said Kimbrough.

After meeting with city officials on Thursday, Kimbrough says that the cover charge idea was taken out of consideration. He says that that city officials pledged to help out with security, but details—especially how the extra expenses will be covered—are still to be worked out.

"I think it`s fantastic the city will help us with that," said Pat Kelly, owner of Kelly's Westport Inn.

The idea of a cover charge in Westport is not a new one. In 2003, Westport merchants began charging people $1 to get into Westport on Saturday nights. But there was a trade-off, in that people could drink in the streets and vendors could sell beer on the sidewalks.

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