By Linda Dillman
Would you like to walk around downtown Canal Winchester with a cup of your favorite alcoholic beverage in hand? That future may not be too far off as city council continues to study the creation of a DORA.
A DORA is a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area where bar/restaurant patrons can legally walk around a designated outdoor area with an alcohol beverage served by a liquor permit holding establishment.
Patrons are required to stay within the predetermined boundaries during established days/times and events. All beverages must be in a plastic container served by a permitted establishment.
A proposed DORA for Canal Winchester’s downtown is bordered by the railroad tracks to Columbus Street, along High Street and from Trine Street to Washington Street/Elm Street along Waterloo.
The DORA would be limited to designated times and days and specific hours during special events, including but not limited to the Art Stroll and Blues and RibFest. The Ohio Revised Code allows only one area for communities of 35,000 or less.
There is no minimum acreage, but a DORA cannot exceed 150 acres with a minimum of four permit holders. The city’s proposed area is 25 acres and meets the permit minimum.
During a July 6 Canal Winchester City Council work session, council discussed the challenges and Ohio Revised Code regulations establishing a refreshment area in Canal Winchester including boundaries, operation hours, signage, law enforcement/public safety plan, sanitation and type/labeling containers.
In discussing disposable cups and his observations of DORA-established communities, Development Director Lucas Haire said, “I haven’t seen a problem with disposable cups, but they are more expensive. It becomes more of a burden for the restaurant.”
Councilman Mike Coolman said he would rather see the city authorize the use of disposable cups versus reusable cups.
“I don’t want to see people loading up in their car with a refillable cup,” said Coolman. “The whole purpose was to help out our restaurants.”
Coolman also felt the need for a lot of easily identifiable signs out lining the boundaries of the DORA.
“Place one everywhere there is a ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ sign,” said Mike Walker.
According to a June council presentation, the benefits of a DORA are cost savings for businesses, who would no longer need to construct a fence around patio areas; more options for permit holders to create outdoor dining/drinking areas; better mobility—barriers and fencing could be less of an issue; and the potential for more customers.
The discussion will continue when council resumes regular meeting activity on Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. after a July hiatus.
Bed tax fund
Council is also looking ahead to increased revenue from the city’s six percent bed tax fund following the opening of new accommodations for travelers in the near future and how best to distribute tax revenue.
According to the city website, the Transient Occupancy Tax is imposed when lodging is provided to guests by a hotel, motel or similar business. A major portion of the tax supports Destination: Canal Winchester, the designated visitors and convention bureau for Canal Winchester. The remainder supports the annual Bed Tax Grant Program.
“As we grow, how many more organizations are going to come to us and ask for help?” questioned Coolman.
Among the suggestions were upping funding for Destination: Canal Winchester, the CWICC and the Joint Recreation District and earmarking set amounts instead of percentages.
“Destination: Canal Winchester gets 25 percent of the whole,” said Will Bennett. “I think we could increase that to 35 percent. There are opportunities for Destination: Canal Winchester to do more.”
Finance Director Amanda Jackson said the CWICC has a little over $300 in its checking account at the present time.
Council plans to continue the bed tax discussion during its Aug. 31 Committee of the Whole meeting at 6 p.m.
Music in the Park
Mayor Mike Ebert said the city is planning to hold a July 17 Music in the Park event featuring the Gas Pump Jockeys, along with a car show.
“Give the people something to do for once,” Ebert said.
The city of Canal Winchester invites everyone to enjoy a free summer concert, Music in the Park, on July 17 from 6-9 p.m. at Stradley Park (adjacent to the city’s municipal building at 36 S. High St.).
The event features classic rock favorites performed by the Gas Pump Jockeys and a classic car show sponsored by C-Town Cruisers. Car show registration is free, however, space is limited to 50 vehicles (registration will be open from 5-6 p.m. the evening of the event). Car Show awards will include People’s Choice, Mayor’s Choice, Band’s Choice, and Sponsor’s Choice.
COVID-19 note: Unlike outdoor concerts in previous years, concessions and hands-on children’s activities will not be offered. Attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic and a lawn chair and to follow recommended social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Visit www.canalwinchesterohio.gov or call 614-834-9915 for information.