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Bossier City starting over in search for East Bank events manager

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The central plaza at East Bank District. (courtesy of Mike McSwain Architect)

Bossier City will have to start over when it comes to finding an events planner for the East Bank District.

Council members explained their reasoning Tuesday at the Bossier City Council agenda meeting behind rejecting an ordinance last week that would have hired one of two companies to manage events in the East Bank District in downtown Bossier City.

Councilman Tim Larkin asked members what the next step was following the June 5 vote that denied hiring either Gumbeaux Productions and CSC Productions.

“Do we start from scratch?” asked Larkin. “We need to do something. That area won’t stay long without trouble if we don’t do something.”

Councilman Jeff Free said the events plaza area should be open to all companies to hold a variety of festivals.

Councilman Don Williams agreed, proposing the city should have event management companies schedule and manage events as they come up.

Free also proposed they do event management for the district in-house if they had the personnel available.

Mayor Lo Walker said, “We don’t.”

Councilman Jeff Darby suggested using Civic Center personnel to do the events management. He said if there is not a lot of demand for activities that personnel at the civic center would be able to do it.

Walker replied that civic center personnel don’t have the manpower or expertise, adding, “I think it would be a failure.”

Councilman Scott Irwin agreed with the mayor, adding, “This area is unique. It’s nothing like the Civic Center. You’ve got security and marketing issues, weather, alcohol issue, chairs and electricity setups. It takes a special person to handle this and handle it effectively.”

Walker advised the council that they should “hire whomever as soon as feasible” because the city is “not utilizing that area to its potential.”

“We need to quit sucking the bullet and bite it,” Walker said.

Larkin asked if something could be done in the interim to “get going.” He proposed an ordinance to let the administration appoint an interim manager for six months.

Councilman David Montgomery, Jr. proposed a committee — consisting of Darby as council president, Don Williams as council Vice President, and Tommy Harvey as East Bank is part of his district — to seek potential companies for a temporary events manager and bring it before the rest of the council in two weeks.

The council voted down the first reading to hire one of two potential event management companies at its regular meeting on June 5. Two ordinances on the agenda would have hired either Gumbeaux Productions for one year at $67,000 or CSC Productions for $108,000.

Gumbeaux Productions was originally hired to manage events at the East Bank District’s events plaza area until the council sought a request for proposal (RFP) from various companies earlier this year.