New cover charge goes into effect on Beale Street

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - All eyes are on Beale Street as changes to the area's security policy go into effect.

Starting Saturday, June 17, there will be changes for anybody who wants to get onto Beale Street after 10 p.m. on Saturdays this summer.

The Beale Street Bucks program charges people $10 but gives $8 back in vouchers for the street. That program was run by the Beale Street Merchants Association.

What's happening now is different. It's run by the city and is a straight $5 cover charge to get on the street. The city council voted to implement the program.

Ken Taylor from the Beale Street Merchants Association said they believe Beale Street Bucks, which they claim lowered crime 30 percent on the street, is the most effective program.

"As my nana used to say, if something isn't broken don't fix it, and so we believe that this program and the change as it's been done by the city council essentially makes Beale Street less safe," Taylor said.

People visiting have mixed reactions to the new cover charge.

"If it's going to be because we are going to feel more safe, I think it's worth it," said Alba Gomez from Houston.

Other visitors didn't like the idea of paying to get on the street.

"I paid to drive here and then to actually pay to come for a sight I came to see, I don't think I want to pay to get on the street," said James Rose from Alabama.

But no one disagrees with the fun experience on the street itself, but the debate on how to keep Beale Street safe rages on.

"I'm pleased that our city council showed its support for the program by passing a resolution to keep Beale Street Bucks in place," said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland in a statement earlier this week. "However, I disagree with council's recommendation to reduce the fee from $10 to $5."

The city also instituted a task force to evaluate the $5 cover charge and its effectiveness this summer. After 90 days, the task force will come back to the city council with a recommendation.

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