The controversy over a laughably ineffective effort to skirt Lake Jackson’s prohibition on dance halls and watering holes has stoked complaints that hardly are new to the City of Enchantment.

Lake Studio provided a thinly veiled club under the guise of offering dance lessons to patrons, who paid “tuition” in exchange for admission and free fire water, according to city officials. While many rightfully called out those behind the scheme, they also raised the question of just why Lake Jackson can’t have a club for people to enjoy themselves.

The simple answer is because it is against the law to open such an establishment in Lake Jackson. The bigger question is whether residents want that type of nightlife in their city. For a half-century, the answer has been no, and until someone decides to lift a finger other than to pound their disdain for the law furiously on a keyboard, it will remain that way.

There are, as commonly happens, two sides to that proposal. The first is the evolving makeup of downtown Lake Jackson. More restaurants, most serving adult beverages, have created an inviting atmosphere for residents, which city leaders envisioned as they poured millions of dollars into rebuilding the streets and infrastructure. A club would only enhance that burgeoning nightlife.

Conversely, there is a significant segment of the population that doesn’t want to increase the number of impaired drivers on city streets or be subjected by the reverberating beat of dance music into the wee morning hours. They are traditional folks, many dating their roots to Lake Jackson’s founding, and believe what remains of their small-town feel should be preserved.

And so forms the classic conflict between young and old, newcomers and long-timers. It would be curious to see which side would win out if an enhanced nightlife vs. the status quo were to put to a vote.

That, of course, is what it will take to broaden Lake Jackson’s permissible liquor-serving establishments, and to this point, no one has accepted the burden of attempting to gather enough signatures to take the question from griping to voting. Until someone does, people can just keep making more tired “Footloose” references because the city’s restrictions will not change.

This editorial was written by Michael Morris, managing editor of The Facts.

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