Downtown Hamilton’s new venture into outdoor drinking is closer to reality

The latest economic-development tool in Hamilton — outdoor drinking of adult beverages as people stroll through downtown — moved closer to reality this week.

Hamilton City Council held the first of two required readings on Wednesday of legislation creating a proposed Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area. The next reading is scheduled for March 28.

The drinking is to start May 1, after a period during which businesses and the community will be taught about the program.

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“We’ve been researching the other five cities that have already implemented this in Ohio, along with getting public feedback” from people in Hamilton, Kristin Youngmeyer, a city management fellow, told members of council.

The hours of operation would be noon to midnight seven days a week, a span that city employees say is easy to remember for visitors and residents.

The area would take in areas of the downtown, German Village neighborhood including the new Marcum Park, the Main Street corridor of restaurants and shops and the area of the proposed Spooky Nook Sports at Champion Mill on North B Street.

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The city surveyed affected businesses, property owners, those who put on special events, residents within the area and all city residents in general, said Charla Henderson, another city fellow.

The property-owner survey went out to more than 1,000 residents of the area, because “we really wanted to make sure they were comfortable being part of something like a DORA,” Henderson said.

Another 500 surveys were received online, and that had “overwhelming support,” Henderson said. “About four out of five residents were very much in support of the DORA.”

A similar percentage said they would use the DORA, with about the same percentage approving of the boundaries. Most who disliked the boundaries also “disliked the DORA as a whole,” Henderson said.

Also, four of five said they didn’t oppose the $1 charge for a special DORA cup, which would identify the beverages as ones that had been purchased from an area business. The proceeds are to be used to clean the area and oversee safety programs.

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Some were concerned about trash, safety and potential disruption of business relationships. Henderson said trash cans will be added to the 161 containers already in the area. The safety and sanitation plan will be reviewed monthly after the first six months, and then quarterly after that.

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