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May election item could determine fate of Old Town in Portland

Portland citizens have the opportunity to vote in favor of liquor sales in the 'LED,' that would spearhead a new area in Old Town
Portland LED area.jpg
Posted at 4:43 PM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 19:26:58-05

PORTLAND, Texas — In the city of Portland, the only businesses allowed to sell alcoholic beverages by the drink are restaurants.

However, in September, state legislation passed State Bill 1216, which allows Portland to designate a specific area of the city to allow for liquor sales.

Previously, cities in Texas could not designate specific areas for liquor sales, it needed to be the whole city.

“We wanted to designate an area, and the legislation allowed us to do that,” said Portland City Manger Randy Wright. “We’re the only city in Texas that can do that.”

In order for the bill to pass in Portland, the citizens need to vote in favor of it in the May 7 general election.

The plan in Portland is to designate the Old Town area to be granted that special liquor designation.

The area, dubbed the ‘Leisure and Entertainment District’ (LED), would be transformed into an area with shops, boutiques, breweries, and other family-friendly venues.

“Bars, saloons and similar businesses will not be permitted in the LED,” Portland mayor Cathy Skurow said in a statement.

Wright said the city hopes the area will be one similar to an area like Main Street in Fredericksburg, or The Pearl in San Antonio.

“We wanted to do something to try to increase the property values, to provide a venue for our citizens,” Wright said. “Portland is all about raising families and building homes. We wanted a place for people to gather, with nice family events and give businesses the opportunity to make money.”

Business owners in the LED are excited about the possibility of more customers brought in by the new development.

“I’m looking forward to the traffic, for sure,” said Natalie Hill, the owner of BoHo Ranch Co. “I think it will be good for the town. There are not a lot of places for people to take their kids or have a good time. So, I think it will keep people in the area.”

“Traffic would definitely increase, more than just your residential commuters everyday, which is typically what we see in the Old Portland area,” Clayton Saunders, the owner of Clayton’s Meat Market said. “It’s a fairly quiet area currently, but it’s a great, great location.”

Hill said the plan for the LED would be great for the area.

“I think it would be great for the upcoming, growing community, and I look forward to having a spot to hang out with my friends and family,” she said.

Saunders hopes the area can attract more tourists to the area.

“I don’t see why the Portland area can’t be a weekend destination spot for travelers, such as the hill country is for the coastal people,” he said.