Woodstock City Council unanimously approved an expansion of the Woodstock Entertainment District. What they really approved was spot zoning for a half-acre lot on Dupree Road which will allow multiple food trucks that serve food and alcohol on an otherwise residential street. This new inclusion into the entertainment district is the first house on the right-hand side of Dupree Road, when entering from Main Street. Everything else on this end of Dupree Road is residential, and includes single homes, townhomes, apartments, trailer parks and Woofstock Park. This road has many children, school buses and pedestrians, but no street parking or sidewalks. Now Woodstock plans to allow food trucks, which bring no economic benefit to our community, to sell their food and alcohol on this residential street. Parking is problematic, consisting of space intended for the adjoining apartment complex or the city parking lot a long walk away. The lack of parking and sidewalks makes this a very dangerous venture for pedestrians, especially pedestrians who have been drinking.
Just this week on Main Street, a child was hit by a car, and in a separate incident, a drunk driver, entering the newly expanded entertainment district, left the road and struck a 25 mph speed limit sign, the post holding the traffic light, and the traffic signal control box. Traffic on Main Street is a nightmare compounded by pedestrians who drink and walk into traffic without warning and drivers who must watch for these pedestrians. The area’s hometown nuance is often replaced by a frat house persona, especially at night. The quality dining customers come for is being tarnished by the infiltration of substandard food establishments. A Woodstock seafood restaurant and a Mexican restaurant on Main Street both recently received very unsatisfactory health inspection scores. Even established businesses fail to thrive in this environment. PLAE, which bought and moved its business headquarters just last year to the old Magnolia House Restaurant property, and promised economic development and jobs for Woodstock, has its property up for sale.
Woodstock didn’t need expansion of the Entertainment District. They need to make improvements to the original district. Infrastructure, traffic and parking concerns must be addressed, and plans to ensure pedestrian safety must be devised and enforced. Do we really want or need the liability associated with multiple food trucks and alcohol sales on a small residential lot on Dupree Road?