City Commission approves exemption for downtown center

During their first November meeting Tuesday evening, the Fort Scott City Commission voted to approve an exemption that would allow the Beaux Arts Centre to sell liquor despite being located near a downtown church.

11-4 City Commission

The ordinance amending the current article, which forbids liquor sales within 500 feet of schools, colleges or churches, now allows such sales within 200 feet of such locations after obtaining a retailer’s license. The Commercial Core District ordinance was created with those businesses located downtown in mind, where structures are close to each other, often including historic churches.

City Manager Dave Martin said the city initially thought they would have to turn down Bobby and Denise Duncan, who opened a winery in recent months and now hope to open the Beau Arts Centre to the public by the beginning of the new year. But the Commercial Core District ordinance allows such businesses to sell liquor.

Denise Duncan said they plan to hold events at the 8,000 square foot center and provide live music or dramas as well as wine tasting and sales.

“We think it will help the downtown area,” said Denise, who moved to Kansas from Texas. “We love this town.”

Bobby added they are already scheduled to use the center during the three species hunt at the end of the month and an art festival in the spring. He also said they plan to let local vendors and artists use the center at reasonable rates.

“We want to provide something for the people,” Bobby said.

For now, work continues on the ground floor of the historic, three-story building located at 102 S. National Ave., which the Duncans have already done work on so they could live on the top floor.

“We really appreciate your investment in the community,” Mayor Cindy Bartelsmeyer said to the couple.

The commissioners also approved the formation of an advisory board to help manage the use of the LaRoche Baseball Complex.

“We had a good year,” Martin said of the complex’s first year of use. “We had a lot of teams here and it was utilized quite a bit.”

The board will have three members serving three year terms, including representatives from the city of Fort Scott, USD 234 and the LaRoche family. The first members appointed during the meeting included city finance director Jon Garrison, USD 234 superintendent Bob Beckham and Adam LaRoche.

Fire Chief Paul Ballou also gave an update on the demolition of the former Western Insurance building located downtown. Ballou said there are four men working at the site at a time, since any more than that could be dangerous. Some of those workers have told Ballou that it is the hardest concrete they have worked on.

Residents have asked Ballou why the project is going so slowly, and he said it is because of its proximity to other buildings. Once the third floor is complete, he said it will move more quickly and should be done by the end of the year.

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