East Hartford Adult Entertainment District–$ex $ells

When you are the CEO of a mid-sized business, you never know what each day is going to bring. This past week, I had no idea that I was going to have to invest time and energy into the East Hartford (Connecticut) strip-club issue. I mean, come on. I’m busy all of the time and this issue popped up out of nowhere. At least there is some comedy involved.

Strip club battle

The story is this: I’ve known about the ongoing struggle between the town and a couple of adult entertainment entrepreneurs. The town already has a couple of “establishments” focused on this type of XXX entertainment. I’ll let the readers explore some of the options on their own. Apparently, there are some folks who do very well ($$$) with this sort of thing. It is also apparent that these businesses attract crime. I’m no expert on the subject, but I read the papers and there are a heck of a lot more incidents involving the police at these businesses than there are at the one I work at.

I don’t even have the whole story, but a couple of lawsuits have been filed, including one against the town for denying first amendment rights. It seems that federal law requires that the town designate at least one area (zone) where these businesses are permitted. This is how I got involved. They picked our neighborhood (the North Meadows) and another industrial park (Prestige Park). The Town of East Hartford didn’t heavily promote that they were hosting a hearing at town hall, but word go out. So, we sent a representative to the hearing last Wednesday to get the lowdown. I also contacted the mayor and our local legislative representatives. Most of the residents of East Hartford don’t want these kinds of businesses anywhere in town and they have expressed their feelings through various forums. Mind you, our legislators and town leaders are the people who should be making legilsation that will help us navigate our economy through the economic morass that we are in. They are also tasked with setting rules, public safety, and preserving freedoms. They also have better things to do than deal with “strip-club anxiety.” I won’t get into the morality issues. I’m more concerned with the fact that a sex related business isn’t appropriate in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is one of the original industrial areas in town. At one time, it was all residents, but it flooded frequently until they built the dike. Once the levee was up, businesses moved here, but that was 60 years ago. We lack some of the more modern characteristics of a new industrial park and the buildings are old. We have our challenges. I guess you could call me a NIMBY. The town shouldn’t be wasting resources on this type of economic development and I told them so. We support more manufacturing businesses and good service businesses, but not this kind of service business.

One of the funny things to come out of the hearing was that the new club or clubs are supposed to be “high end.” That’s funny. One resident told one of the attorneys that they should locate their high end club in a high end town. We have plenty of those in Connecticut, and East Hartford isn’t one of them. Believe me, that isn’t a knock against our community. Avon, Farmington, Glastonbury, and West Hartford have their own issues.

I did offer a proposal to the mayor. I said that since there was so little action at the Rentschler Field development (other than Cabela’s massive 200,000 sq/ft store), that we could move our whole neighborhood to that site and designate the North Meadows as the equally massive Connecticut Riverfront Adult Entertainment District. We could establish a special tax rate for these businesses to fund the construction of a 12 foot high wall the entire length of Governor Street. I’m sure the huge profits generated by teh businesses in this district would help the beleaguered East Hartford School System. The best part about this idea is that Horst Engineering would get the extra space it needs and our neighbors would get to upgrade their infrastructure. This could be a win for everyone involved. Now we just need to find a developer.

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