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Amherst City Council eyes outdoor drinking proposal

Public hearing set for Monday night
Amherst Drinking 4.jpg
Posted at 6:20 AM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 06:20:12-04

AMHERST, Ohio — Amherst City Council is set to take the first step in reviewing a proposal to make part of downtown a "DORA" or "Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area" during special community events.

Supporters of the proposal say it could help businesses bounce back and make up for lost profits due to the pandemic.

Step foot in downtown Amherst, and you'll quickly realize how quaint the area is.

In fact, some say it could be the backdrop for a Hallmark Christmas movie.

The streets are lined with flowers, boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, and friendly residents.

"I just really love the community. Everybody gets to know each other," said Teresa Gilles, Executive Director of Main Street Amherst.

Working for the non-profit, Main Street Amherst, Gilles wants to amplify the community and highlight what visitors may have been missing over the years.

She advocates for the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area or "DORA".

"The whole purpose behind it is to help not only the town and the restaurants but even the retailers," said Gilles.

Here's how the DORA would work:

Residents and visitors could walk around with mixed drinks or beer in the scenic space.

Gilles says it won't be a free-for-all or party place.

In fact, it will specifically only cover a couple of city streets, and the DORA would only be used during special community events like "Walking on Wednesdays" where they close off the streets for a block party-like gathering during a couple of months out of the year.

"It's not a thing where a Mardi Gras... Not at all. But it's just a way people can enjoy a beverage when they're walking around," said Gilles.

Designated cups would be sold by retailers providing the alcohol, to prevent underage drinking.

However, Amherst City Council member Chuck Winiarski says although there appears to be overwhelming support for the DORA, there are still questions that need to be answered.

"How do you participate and what are the costs associated with it? I think some local businesses are apprehensive because I'm not sure that they really want people walking around with drinks. I think some local residents are apprehensive because they think it promotes an environment that maybe lends itself to being somewhat unruly," said Chuck Winiarski, Amherst City Council Member.

A public hearing is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday.

Amherst City Council will then vote on the map.

Officials are hoping this proposal will pass and become official by this fall.