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Vicksburg council eyes Social District changes

By Jef Rietsma

Vicksburg’s Social District may undergo changes in hopes of fostering greater patronage.

Village council members were advised at an August meeting that further discussion about the downtown area designated as Vicksburg’s Social District can be expected at a Sept. 19 meeting.

Village Manager Jim Mallery said the situation is based primarily on recent conversations he has had with patrons of the Social District and businesses within its boundaries. He said feedback on the village’s Social District has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

In addition, Mallery said he has taken part in forums with his counterparts across the state. Discussions about social districts confirm Vicksburg is not alone in having what could be considered a successful district.

“It’s quite consistent what communities are seeing, first and foremost, that this is truly a positive economic tool for communities that have been engaged and put this in place,” Mallery said, hinting he may suggest the council consider extend the hours of Vicksburg’s Social District.

“It is a council item (and) if the council felt the need or desire, we would certainly recommend that we … put together local data and the impact it’s had on our community, and with that some options in front of the council.”

Michigan law permits local governments to create a defined district including liquor-licensed bars and restaurants and permits patrons to carry their beverages among the businesses. It includes Oswalt Park at the intersection of Prairie and Main streets.

Council President Tim Frisbie said he has been approached at various times about the Social District’s hours and limitations.

“We have a pretty good understanding of what everybody wants to do going forward,” he said.

Council member Ryan Wagner said he agrees it may be time to revisit the district and consider changes to benefit its patrons.

“A lot of folks on the chamber of commerce have approached me and echoed those same things,” Wagner said. “So, I think it’s time we do take a good look at it and task staff with bringing back a recommendation. I’d definitely like to see some proposed changes and recommendations.”

With that, Wagner made a motion for village staff to compile data and information, so the village council can consider updates and recommendations. Mallery will provide a summary of the information and likely make a recommendation.

The Social District’s hours are 4 to 11 p.m. seven days a week.

In other action, Mallery said work on improvements at Sunset Lake Park and Clark Park have been progressing. Sunset Lake Park is close to completion, while the Clark Park work will continue.

Also, Mallery said the village’s Aug. 9 Food Truck Rally drew more than 2,000 people.

“I think people are understanding we can pull these events off,” he said. “They’re family events. People are coming down, families, pets … Main Street and Prairie Street were designed for these events.”

Meanwhile, the village is preparing to host its 150th anniversary celebration Oct. 15. More information will be available in next month’s South County News.

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