By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor
After a debate, Grove City Council agreed to allow the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) to operate on Sunday.
The legislation was approved at a recent council meeting with a 3-2 vote.
Prior to council passing the new rules, the DORA had operated from 2 p.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday, excluding the annual Homecoming Celebration, Boo on Broadway, and the Christmas Celebration. The original proposal was to amend the legislation to remove those events from the excluded list and add Sunday. However, some council members did not like the idea of allowing people to walk around with an alcoholic beverage during family-friendly events.
“I am not in favor of the DORA operating during family events like Boo on Broadway and the Christmas Celebration,” said councilman Roby Schottke. “These are events where children are involved.”
The majority of council agreed to keep Boo on Broadway and the Christmas Celebration excluded from events list but did agree that the DORA could operate during Homecoming.
The outdoor refreshment area was adopted by city council in 2019. It includes areas in the Town Center north of Cleveland Avenue, east of Arbutus Avenue, south of Civic Place, and west behind City Hall. In 2021, council voted to expand its boundaries to the city-owned lot next to the old library site on Park Street and to the southeast corner of Civic Place and Broadway.
The DORA is essentially a waiver of Grove City’s open container law for a designated area. It allows patrons of legal age to buy an alcoholic beverage, from an established permit holder, and take that drink outside in marked areas. The drinks are poured into an identifiable plastic cup. Participants can sit outside and drink or they can browse in the designated areas.
Council members were not in agreement on adding Sunday to the DORA.
Council president Ted Berry requested Sundays be removed as a day of operation.
Councilwoman Christine Houk agreed and voted to strike Sunday from the permitted days.
Houk said the goal of the DORA is to boost economic development and encourage foot traffic in the Town Center. She said Sunday is a quiet day for business.
“My question is why?” said Houk. “It is driving economic development?”
Councilman Randy Holt, who was in favor of adding Sunday to the DORA, said liquor is already sold in the establishments on Sunday.
“I don’t understand what the issue is,” he said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
Grove City resident Tobias Ewing agreed with Holt and said allowing the DORA on Sunday is not out of line.
“Just because you don’t want to drink on Sunday, don’t take away others’ right to do so,” he said.
While Berry and Houk voted to keep Sunday prohibited, the rest of council voted to add Sunday.
Grove City resident Connie Tucker, with Father Heart Ministries, spoke out against expanding the DORA. She said many in the community are impacted by alcohol and drug addiction. She does not see how the DORA is helping with this matter.
Tucker shared her personal struggles with alcohol, saying she started drinking when she was 12 years old.
“It was a lifestyle,” she said.
Tucker said from the ages of 12 to 23, she struggled with addiction and in that time, she admitted to committing crimes.
“This is what you promote,” she told city leaders.
Tucker said she was not in favor of the DORA and asked council not to expand it.
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage said police officers have reported very little adverse activity related to the DORA. He said city leaders are not seeing over-drinking.
“It has worked,” said Stage.
For more information on the DORA, visit grovecityohio.gov.
In related news, council approved a resolution to waive the city code and allow the Grove City Kids Association to sell beer during the annual Homecoming Celebration in the streets of the Town Center on July 29. Council also waived city code to allow the Grove City Rotary Club to sell beer during the annual Alumni Softball Tournament on July 30-31 at Fryer Park.
In other news, council approved the agreement between the city and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 1116, Ohio Council 8, AFL-CIO.
This union covers 27 members, including 20 service technicians, five account clerks, and two account specialists.
According to Chuck Boso, city administrator, the employees will receive a 2.5 percent pay increase over the next three years, costing the city approximately $291,000. The agreement is effective through April 2025.