By Linda Dillman
A Canal Winchester City Council discussion became heated when Councilwoman Jill Amos started a conversation regarding a meeting she and Councilman Pat Lynch previously held with a group of business owners regarding a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA).
A DORA is a specified 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. The refreshment area is bordered by the railroad tracks to Columbus Street, along High Street and from Trine Street to Washington Street/Elm Street along Waterloo. It would be limited to designated times and days and specific hours during special events, such as the Art Stroll and Blues and Rib Fest.
During the public comment portion of the regular council meeting, Bruna Brundige spoke on behalf of merchants and shops in the city’s downtown historic area who are in support of a designated refreshment area.
“Collectively, we agree establishing a DORA would be beneficial for our downtown shops,” said Brundige. “Several times a year we sponsor shop hops and special events that draw large crowds of people. Those are always beneficial to us as well as the restaurants. We believe the addition of a DORA at these events would make them more appealable to the public.”
Amos wants to see the city start a DORA with special events. She said, at this point, the decision is up to the mayor whether or not to designate the refreshment area.
“I’m asking the council to make a resolution to ask the mayor to move forward with this,” said Amos.
Councilman Bob Clark said he wanted to send out a survey to everyone within the designated area to gauge their support. However, Amos noted Brundige represented the downtown shops and they gave her permission to present their position to council.
When asked who would be in charge of arranging for supplies, training and signage, Lynch proposed the creation of a downtown restaurant association, who would take care of everything but still leave control in the hands of council.
Mayor Mike Ebert felt there were a lot of unanswered questions such as who will be responsible for picking up trash containers. Lynch suggested restaurants patrol the areas around their establishments.
“They know that?” asked Ebert.
Lynch assured him they did.
“If you can get all of that in writing for me, that would be very helpful,” said Ebert. “Who’s going to be responsible for this and who’s going to be responsible for that. Who’s going to store the cups. All that stuff. If you can get all that in writing for me, that makes my job easier.”
Amos said they are not asking to move “full throttle” into a DORA, they (the business group) is asking for special events. However, Ebert said he was never apprised of this part of the discussion.
“I was never told this,” Ebert said to Amos. “You bring in a bunch of people to complain about it and you haven’t given me any information. How many times have you been in to talk to me about this? How many? I can’t hear you.”
Amos responded by telling Ebert if he is going to be rude, then the conversation can stop.
“Mayor, your conversations with me are not always on par with being polite or kind or an open door experience,” said Amos. “I would love to sit down and talk with you.”
Ebert replied, “I’m being rude? I’m being rude to you because you’ve been rude to me. Paybacks are hell, Jill.”
Amos said she was bringing the information to light so the council and city officials could talk about it.
Council President Mike Walker asked Amos and Lynch to gather their information about the DORA and get it to the council.