Supporters ask Jacksonville City Council to save adult arcades

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville City Council voted Tuesday night on the budget for fiscal year 2020, and JEA employee benefits and the possible sale of the utility generated a lengthy discussion, but the largest show of support in the chamber came from people asking to save adult arcades.

Diane Koontz is one of the many people who attended Tuesday night's meeting. The council voted in May to eliminate adult arcades in the city. The bill leaned on crime and safety concerns, calling the mostly-cash businesses a public nuisance.

"Entertainment, and they go their to socialize. I go every night. I go meet up with some friends. We chat. We play games," Koontz said. "It's more of a way to get together. This isn't about making money, and the city is going to lose money in the long run."

All adult gaming businesses will have to shut down by February. A bill that's up for discussion would get rid of the arcades even sooner.

Many who attended Tuesday's meeting wore shirts that read: "Save our jobs Jacksonville! Save our arcades!"

"Most of all, we feel safe," said Mary Robinson, a supporter of adult arcades. "It's open 24 hours and a lot of time we go at 1 or 2 in the morning. You can't sleep and you get up and you just go and there are people there and you're OK."

There was no vote during Tuesday night's public hearing, so the adult arcades will still close by Feb. 1.

During the meeting, a bill calling for $1.5 million to fund Cure Violence for the next fiscal year passed 18-1. Councilman Garrett Dennis was lone "no" vote.

Cure Violence was introduced this year as a way to battle violent crime in Jacksonville. The program says it has seen success in the Eastside and Northside neighborhoods.

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