The Midway City Council tentatively decided Monday night the boundaries and rules of a proposed "entertainment destination center," in which drinkers can go in and out of licensed premises with alcoholic beverages as long as they stay within the center's boundaries.
Mayor Grayson Vandegrift called the proposal, which the council heard July 15, an "open container ordinance." It is possible under a recent state regulation that allows cities to buy a license for $2,800. The rationale stated by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is to reduce the enforcement load on ABC agents and police, and to help localities promote tourism and economic growth.
The Versailles City Council recently adopted the idea, allowing the mayor to set and change the dates when its center will be effective. Vandegrift said Midway council members "seem to be more in favor a permanent, set time" that the council would establish with an ordinance.
The City of Frankfort also is considering such an ordinance.
"The point of the ordinance is to allow people to walk around and shop," Vandegrift said, but later asked how many shops are open at night, saying he was "playing devil's advocate." Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher mentioned a couple of shops, adding later that even if shops were not open, they would still attract window shoppers.
Council Member Logan Nance asked if more stores might stay open later if the council passed the ordinance, which he said would give the city "kind of a unique feel." Council Member John Holloway said, "If it turns out badly, we could just stop doing it."
The council agreed to end the open-container hours at 10 p.m., the discussed what the containers would look like. Versailles requires beverages to be in an unbreakable, "non-clear" container, such as a plastic Solo cup, perhaps in a style all the restaurants could use.
Council Member Stacy Thurman said her husband Ian, an ABC agent, said one reason for such a rule is that it is "kind of tacky" to see what someone is drinking. Council Member Sara Hicks said, "I kind of like the idea of a special cup; it could be a collector's item."
Vandegrift, a former restaurateur, called it "a great idea" but ultimately "untenable" because use of the cups would likely be inconsistent. The mayor said he would leave the "non-clear" provision out of the ordinance that he would present to the council Aug. 19, but "You all can put it in."
If the ordinance is enacted and the city buys the license, it would have to post signs marking the limits of the "entertainment destination center."
Vandegrift presented a map of the proposed boundary where open containers would be allowed, and the council made one adjustment, to allow them on Dudley Street in front of The Brown Barrel and Blind Harry's. The other limits would be the corner of Gratz and Martin streets, Winter Street and the end of East Main Street. In response to a question, Vandegrift said the parking lot at the end of East Main is private property and cannot be included in the boundary.