The future of Pub Crawl, Hobo Day and weekly drinking could hang in the balance as the Pub Crawl Committee meets to debate these events in response to community and business complaints.
In a Council Meeting last June, council members were presented with multiple letters and emails denouncing Pub Crawl and other drinking events in downtown Brookings. Responding to these complaints, the council appointed Downtown Brookings, Inc. to create a committee and facilitate discussions between downtown businesses, SDSU students, community members and bars.
Part of the reason the committee was made is to prevent the City Council from becoming involved. Which would mean regulations, ordinances or other restrictions that would affect the community year-round, not just during specific events. Downtown Brookings, Inc. Board President Kris Struwe said DBI would facilitate the committee discussions for at least the first few weeks.
“The city wants us to explore and see if there is something that can be done on our end of it or in conjunction with the bars,” Struwe said. “The committee will set its own goals.”
In spite of trying to help all sides of the issue, DBI has faced some difficulties finding businesses to commit to being a part of the committee.
“Anytime there is a topic such as this, they want their opinion known but they don’t want anyone to know it was them,” Struwe said.
Even though there has been some lack of commitment, Struwe said they hope to have the committee finalized this week. Members of the committee will consist of business owners, SDSU Students’ Association members, bar owners and a Brookings police officer.
DBI Program Manager Vicki Schuster spoke to SA on Oct. 3 about having SA members on the committee. In response to her presentation, two student senators were chosen to serve on the committee Senator At-Large Daniel Roberts and Senator Kaytlin Pelton, College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences.
While some people may have a strong opinion about the outcome and decisions made by the committee, Pelton said she wants to listen to what people have to say before she makes any decisions.
“I want to see where she (Schuster) wants to go with this or where the community wants to go with it and why they have problems. Obviously, that’s why the committee was made,” Pelton said. “I don’t see a huge problem with it … but I’m open to hear anything from both sides.”
As of now, Pelton said she is opened-minded and interested in hearing what people have to say. Although, she realizes things need to change so the City Council isn’t forced to take action.
“I don’t want to see an ordinance come into play so I think there are obviously measures we need to take. I think it’s important that we look at those measures and work with them accordingly and how we need to,” Pelton said.
When confronted with the possibility of losing Pub Crawl, Roberts immediately knew he disagreed with the reasons behind the discontent and wanted to be a part of the committee. He said the events like Pub Crawl help more than just the bars – they help the community.
“I didn’t really agree with the reason why they were doing it … They were saying it was a school thing and it’s not. There are more people that come to it than just SDSU students. There are people from other colleges that come. They stay in hotels and eat at restaurants. It’s not just the bars that benefit from it, it’s the entire community,” Roberts said.
As part of the committee, Roberts will have a voice in deciding what will change in Pub Crawl and drinking downtown. He said he thinks small changes could really make differences.
“With so many people in the streets and walking around, I would personally like to see additional bathroom facilities – port-a-potties,” Roberts said, and “have a better way of getting people home safely without disrupting the community.”
Even though Roberts disagrees with fault being put on SDSU students and the general disagreement toward events like Pub Crawl, he realizes the importance of having a committee to bring about change.
“This committee is a way to minimize some of the complaints so we can continue to have this benefit for the community as well as students,” Roberts said.
Brookings City Manager Jeff Weldon said as DBI organizes and plans the committee, they are supposed to update the Brookings City Council as progression is made, but so far the lines have communication have been silent.