Councilman looks to Bourbon Street for ideas to better Beale

Bourbon Street in New Orleans (Source: Councilman Berlin Boyd)
Bourbon Street in New Orleans (Source: Councilman Berlin Boyd)
Beale Street in Memphis (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Beale Street in Memphis (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis City Councilman Berlin Boyd took a trip down to Bourbon Street this weekend looking for ideas on how to make Beale Street better.

Specifically, he looked at how to improve the Beale Street Bucks program.

"Figure out how a Beale Street Bucks program can possibly change," Boyd said. "Ultimately, what we want to see is more tax revenue being spent on Beale Street."

Councilman Boyd walked with New Orleans' police officers all weekend, getting ideas for things like safety and crowd control.

He said New Orleans assigns two officers permanently to each block on Bourbon.

"They make their officers walk," Boyd said. "They own those blocks in which they are assigned to. It was just a simple way of policing. It's community policing at its best."

Another difference is how to get people on to Bourbon safely. In Memphis during Beale Street Bucks, there can be long lines with pat downs and ID checks.

But Bourbon is trying something different.

"The one thing that I think is very cool, they are about to implement a dog program in New Orleans," Boyd said. "These dogs will be able to detect not only drugs, but they will also be able to detect ballistic fragments of gun powder so on, so forth. They want friendly dogs, Labrador retrievers, things like that."

The whole idea is to make the experience better for tourists so they're more likely to spend money.

"I think right now Beale Street sends a message of a police state," Boyd said. "It's like you're going into Fort Knox when you go to Beale Street."

We went down to Beale Street on Sunday before Elvis Week to ask what people think about bringing ideas from Bourbon Street to Beale Street.

"There's never something wrong with changing a little bit of scenery, getting a few new ideas in there," said Nick Stancl.

"You know let Beale stay Beale, let Bourbon stay Bourbon," said Hollis Carter, who is visiting from New Orleans.

"I don't think it would be too bad of an idea, maybe just freshen it up for the people who did live here," said Ryan Katka, who is visiting from Milwaukee.

Councilman Boyd said he doesn't know what, if any, direct changes will be made from his visit to New Orleans.

He said he will present a binder full of notes to the council in the coming weeks.

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