Resolution will have to wait on Liberty Belle

The Reno-Sparks Convention Authority Board faced an angry crowd Thursday morning as it took up the possible relocation of the Liberty Belle Restaurant, KOLO News Channel 8 reported.

Convention authority members got an earful from customers and employees of the restaurant who nearly filled the meeting room. There were also some people who said they just don't like to see a small business bullied.

Whatever the resolution of the issue, it will percolate for at least 90 days.

The board voted to postpone asking Washoe County to use eminent domain to seize the Liberty Belle property in hopes a compromise can be worked out in the interim.

Marshall Fey, co-owner of the Liberty Belle, told KOLO he doesn't see his business as a problem, but rather an asset for the community. A small army of supporters showed up to back him.

The Liberty Belle was there first, but the convention center, then the Centennial Coliseum, followed in six years. For most of 40 year, they have sat side by side.

Liberty Belle traded on its hometown atmosphere and history.

The convention center, which was born out of controversy over its location, has been largely underused. Too far from the downtown core, historically local hotel casinos have not supported its use as a host for large conventions.

Now, with local gaming revenue flat and under assault from competition elsewhere, the industry may warm up to the idea of using the spruced-up and expanded convention center. But the Liberty Belle may be in the way.

Authority spokesmen say the issue is parking and traffic control, but most at the meeting believed it was really about appearances.

Both sides say they are willing to talk.

Fey says he will consider two solutions: stay in his present location, or move a few hundred feet to the corner of Peckham and South Virginia streets.

There was reportedly some discussion of that possibility, but the RSCVA would like to move the restaurant across Virginia Street.


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