A city councilman is calling for the return of “gentlemen’s clubs” to bring more business and money to downtown Mason City. During a discussion this week by the council to amend the city code to close a gap on regulating the operation of adult-oriented businesses, Max Weaver suggested that gentlemen’s clubs should be allowed in the downtown area as a means of bringing people into the area after 5 p.m.

 Weaver says there were five gentlemen’s clubs in town while he was growing up in Mason City in the 1960s and early 70s “In the late 60s and early 70s, Mason City was the funnest community. It actually had some notoriety and a pulse,” Weaver said. “It really doesn’t today. It got bleached out in the mid-70s. I’m not going to name any names, but a philosophy blew into town and pretty much stripped the community of all those things.”

 Weaver says he took a trip earlier this year to Duluth, Minnesota, where there are several gentlemen’s clubs downtown. He says the clubs aren’t causing any problems in Duluth. “(The clubs) have not had an adverse impact on property values…and there are over 1,000 hotel rooms within 100 feet of one building. They’re filled 85-percent of the time,” Weaver said.

Mason City is spending $20 millon to try and bring more activity to the downtown area at night. Weaver says gentlemen’s clubs would do that and he rejects the idea that the clubs “promote or enhance” sexual activities.

“I guess I look at it…as art,” Weaver said. Mason City Community Planner Tricia Sandahl says research shows that gentlemen’s clubs or similar businesses can be detrimental to their surroundings, but her staff will work on crafting a proposal that could be discussed at a future council meeting.

The council, on a four-to-two vote, approved the first reading of the zoning change ordinance – including Weaver’s motion to rewrite the adult-oriented business laws so such clubs could possibly be allowed in the downtown area.

By Bob Fisher, KGLO, Mason City