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Study shows Scottsdale pays more toward safety costs of entertainment district

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PHOENIX — The city of Scottsdale possesses many iconic western art pieces throughout what is known as the entertainment district. Statues of horses and water fountains alike are sights for sore eyes of visitors to Scottsdale, but how much is the city actually benefiting from these markers?

According to a recent study, Scottsdale pays $3,198,737 per year in public safety costs in order to patrol, manage and mitigate issues that may arise in the district. To put it in perspective, the city paid $1.2 million in 2011 toward such costs, so the cost toward effective safety has gradually risen each year.

Terrance Thornton reports in the Scottsdale Independent that of the 7,903 calls that the Scottsdale Fire Department received from July 2015 to June 2016, nearly 20 percent, or 1,357, of those involved the entertainment district. In addition, nearly 25 percent of police calls received by Patrol District 2 were associated with the district as well.

Councilman David Smith told Thornton that the city must decide once and for all how much money it must allocate toward protecting the district and whether if it’s worth it.

The argument is often confused by proponents of the bar district because they count revenues from nearby non-bar businesses in the square-mile entertainment district even though these businesses do no account for any extraordinary public safety expenses.

Smith further explains that while the bar business within the district have grown by 50 percent, the expenses for public safety have grown along with it to nearly five times the bars revenue.

The councilman argues that there is really nothing truly iconic or different about the entertainment district that people haven’t or can’t see elsewhere. Smith concludes by saying that people are not spending money at the Fashion Square mall, and the district does nothing to enhance the idea of visiting Scottsdale as a major destination option for tourists.

Frankly, there is nothing unique about these establishments — nothing iconic. What we try to do in Scottsdale is create things that uniquely iconic to Scottsdale. Two dozen bars? Anyone can build them and there is nothing iconic or memorable about the bar district.

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