Middletown may expand outdoor drinking program

Middletown’s Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, in which people are able to stroll designated areas with adult beverages bought from participating businesses, may be expanded from three days per week to every day.

Here are 5 things to know about the proposed change to the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or DORA:

1. New hours cover every day of the week

A review by downtown Middletown stakeholders led to Middletown City Council hearing the first reading of an ordinance that would expand the days and hours of the DORA to noon to midnight every day of the week.

The adjustment of the operating days and hours will make Middletown’s DORA consistent with others in Ohio, according to City Manager Doug Adkins, including one recently launched in Hamilton.

In the past, the DORA hours have been adjusted for special events at the recommendation of the police chief and council approval.

2. DORA boundaries remain the same … for now

Matt Eisenbraun, Middletown’s assistant economic development director, said the DORA may be expanded as other businesses are interested in participating.

Currently, the DORA is bounded by Clark Street, Manchester Avenue, South Canal Street, Columbia Avenue including Donham Plaza, North Main Street including the buildings on the northwest corner of North Main and Central Avenue, Central Avenue to the Great Miami River and around the southern edge of Forest Hills Country Club, Water Street and around the American Legion on South Main Street to First Avenue, to South Canal Street, to Reynolds Avenue to Curtis Street to Central Avenue back to Clark Street.

3. Special DORA cup in the works

Work is being done to develop a unique cup design for DORA that patrons can take outside to enjoy their beverage, according to Eisenbraun.

4. The rules won’t change

While the DORA is an open container area, beverages are required to be purchased at specially licensed establishments within the area.

Patrons can purchase and walk around with a beverage, but they cannot take that beverage into another establishment.

Public intoxication ordinances are enforced as well as open container law for people who bring in their own beverages, which is not allowed.

Since the DORA was established, there have been very few incidents requiring police assistance, according to city officials.

5. DORA just one economic development tool being used by city

In 2016, Middletown became the first municipality in Ohio to create and operate a DORA. At the time, Eisenbraun said the creation of a DORA, in combination with the establishment of an Entertainment District, was thought to be one way to energize the redevelopment of the downtown area and create a connection between various projects and new businesses.

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