No action on open container idea - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

No action on open container idea

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January 11, 2006

Albany -- Plans to allow people to carry alcoholic drinks throughout a designated entertainment district in downtown Albany are on hold for now.

A year ago, some downtown merchants asked city commissioners to pass an ordinance allowing open containers in part of downtown. Commissioners told them to work with Albany Tomorrow and on boundaries for the district and rules for the open container ordinance.

New businesses are pouring into downtown Albany, like San Joe's and Jazz at 242. SOT 5 Bo Henry of The Harvest Moon said,"Downtown is really turning around and more business are coming."

Henry welcomes the growth but says as more business come downtown, some rules and ordinances may have to change. That's why last February, Henry and some other downtown merchants asked city commissioners to consider designating downtown as an entertainment district where people can carry open containers of alcohol.

"Really what we were doing was putting out feelers," Henry said. He says the request was to get the ball rolling, but says it's not time yet to allow open containers. "We're not really pushing for anything like that yet because there's not enough business down here yet to where it would make a big difference."

But downtown merchants and Albany Tomorrow are still working with city planners to come up with a proposal that includes the designation of an entertainment district and more. ATI Chief Tommy Chatmon says, "It will address architectural elements, signage and hours of operation for business. It's a comprehensive list of items."

Chatmon says they're getting ideas from other cities like Savannah and Columbus that already have entertainment districts.

And Henry says business owners understand that a change like this takes a lot of research and time. "It would definitely have to be with lots of security and lots of restrictions because we want to keep it a safe environment downtown."

So for now, Henry and others business owners will just get one-day outdoor alcohol licenses for special events like Mardi Gras, coming up next month.

City commissioners will have the final say-so since they must pass any ordinance regarding open containers of alcohol.

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