Village on Adams thirsts for area proposal
by Taylor Dungeon
Blade Staff Writer
Reposted from the Toledo Blade. To read the full article, visit http://www.toledoblade.com/local/2015/09/28/Outdoor-imbibing-may-come-soon.html
The Village on Adams may become home to a new area in which bar patrons will be able to socialize outdoors with open containers of alcohol.
In May, just after Ohio lawmakers created “outdoor refreshment areas,” Zach Lahey and the rest of The Village on Adams board started developing plans for such an area in Toledo.
Along with city officials and representatives from the chamber of commerce, the Warehouse District, and UpTown Association, Toledo’s open-refreshment proponents have drawn up plans for an open-container area in a 10-block section of Adams Street.
The new state law allows cities with populations of more than 35,000 to create one entertainment district, or outdoor refreshment area, where people may legally walk outside with open containers of alcohol. Cities with more than 50,000 residents may create two areas. In larger cities, the districts could not be larger than half a square mile.
The measure was aimed at helping Cincinnati capitalize on this summer’s Major League Baseball All Star game, but now other cities are considering creating open-refreshment areas of their own.
Toledo City Council must approve creation of the open-refreshment area.
“The Warehouse District is a prime candidate for a second area; they're also going to be paying close attention,” said Mr. Lahey, the treasurer of the Adams Street group. “If we screw it up, we mess it up for them.”
Putting together the outdoor refreshment area has not been without challenges. Although such areas exist in other parts of the country — including Bourbon Street in New Orleans and Beale Street in Memphis, Tenn. — they’re new to Ohio, which may cause concern for nearby residents. The proposed area of Adams Street, between 10th and 21st streets, includes two schools, Toledo School for the Arts and Life Skills High School.
“It's been an extremely open process,” said Douglas Mead, director of Toledo School for the Arts.
Mr. Mead said school officials have been part of the conversations about the proposal. The school has asked for, and the Village on Adams has planned for, security to keep students safe.
The law mandates that the outdoor refreshment area operate only in designated areas and within limited hours. The proposal on Adams is for operation Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. and from noon to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. During the school week, and for special events, Toledo police or deputies from the Lucas County Sheriff's Office would be present outside the school, although final arrangements are pending , Mr. Lahey said. Once school children are gone from the area, the officer or officers would patrol the rest of the area. The Village on Adams also plans to pay for additional police or deputies to be present.
“Our intention is to use that additional security to really be focused on protecting the TSA campus and keeping a close watch on people making sure they stay on Adams Street and are not interacting with the students, and just really creating a safe zone for students no matter how late there happens to be an event,” Mr. Lahey said.
Mr. Mead, on Sept. 16, sent a letter to parents of TSA students, outlining the proposal. Since then, Mr. Mead has not received any feedback, positive or negative, he said.
Mr. Lahey said he went around the neighborhood, talking to business owners and residents to seek their input.
“The thing that surprised and delighted me most is how much the neighborhood has supported us,” Mr. Lahey said. “It's nice to have the vast majority of the neighborhood supporting us.”
The Village on Adams board also is working with the city to get new signage for the street, if the proposal is presented and approved by council, to clearly mark the refreshment-area boundaries.
The law has many nuances, including that drinks purchased at one bar and taken outside cannot then be taken into another establishment or back into the bar from which they were purchased. The “to-go” drinks must also be served in cups.
Mr. Lahey said the village has plans to use compostable cups, such as a soy-based plastic or paper cups, to minimize waste. Drinks to go outdoors will be sold with a $1 additional charge to pay for the cups, added security and other expenses associated with the outdoor-refreshment area, Mr. Lahey said. Some of that money could be used to pay for neighborhood enhancement projects, such as lighting along Adams, he said.
The hope, Mr. Lahey said, is that creating the outdoor-refreshment area on Adams will bring more people to the neighborhood and promote growth downtown. Adams Street patrons also could take in the numerous murals and the two parks the Village on Adams installed this summer.
“We want to be an example,” Mr. Lahey said. “We want to show that it can be a good thing for any city that wants to do it. We're staking our organization’s reputation on it. And the street’s reputation on it. And Toledo as a whole.”