Overcrowding can be a deadly issue, and with Fake Patty’s Day looming on the horizon, the Manhattan City Commission came together last night to discuss the issue.
An ordinance setting up new regulations and penalties for overcrowding was presented by city staff, which triggered much debate between the commission, business owners, and members of the public in attendance. The proposed ordinance would allow the Riley County Police Department to get involved, contrasted with the current policy of allowing only the fire department to make that call. Additionally, the ordinance would ramp up fines for overcrowding violations and make it possible for bars to be closed for 24 hours following a violation. Commissioner Loren Pepperd voiced concerns that clause would lead to a “domino effect” for the surrounding area.
“If we close one bar down, they’ll only go to the next bar,” he said. “And before we know it, we’ll close everyone in Aggieville down and my main concern is pushing people out of Aggieville and into local neighborhoods.”
While Commissioner Wynn Butler voiced concerns about implementing such an ordinance city-wide just for one event, Mayor Jim Sherow stated the problem isn’t just limited to Fake Patty’s Day.
“We’ve had three instances of overcrowding since the fire department has taken a no tolerance stance,” Sherow said. “So the issue is beyond Fake Patty’s Day. There are overcrowding situations there that endanger public health.”
No action was taken on the overcrowding ordinance, as it was tabled for discussion in the near future.