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Committee, vendors favor DORA in Salem

SALEM–With several downtown vendors speaking in favor of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, city council’s Committee of the Whole voted Tuesday to take the next step necessary to create one.

Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey, who chairs the committee, explained that the state law establishing the DORA requires the administration to officially request that council pursue a DORA, so that’s what the proposed ordinance going to city council requests.

Once the administration makes it official, then the request will go to the Rules and Ordinances Committee, which she also chairs, to formulate the rules, such as the hours of operation, work with the vendors and get their ideas and work with the law director to make sure they have everything established that the law requires.

She said it’s not an easy, quick process, but spoke previously about the value of going ahead to help draw people to the downtown to patronize the businesses. Columbiana has held several DORA events. Canton’s DORA operates seven days a week year-round from noon to midnight.

To those not familiar with a DORA, it allows people to consume alcoholic beverages outside in a designated area during a certain timeframe.

“A lot of people are starting to do this. I would hate to see Salem miss the boat,” she said.

A map she had prepared by the city Planning & Zoning officer to show possible boundaries for the DORA encompassed all of the downtown east-west from Lincoln to behind the Flying Pig and EuroGyro and then both sides of Broadway from Franklin to Second Street, Pershing from Lincoln to Ellsworth, part of Penn Avenue and the municipal parking lot bordered by Penn, Pershing and Lundy. She said the map only covered .07 square miles, but they have some room to include a larger area, up to .25 miles. There has to be at least four liquor permit holders within the DORA, which Salem would have.

As for how often the DORA could take place, several opinions were expressed by representatives from Ricky’s English Pub, Boneshakers, Coaches, BB Rooners and the Flying Pig Saloon. Columbiana is currently an events-only DORA which council has to approve each time. Some of the ideas mentioned for Salem included Thursday, Friday and Saturday year-round; from Memorial Day through Labor Day; weekends only; or tied to Second Saturdays. Most of the consensus was to have more than just events, and one business owner said it would be easier to just designate it for every weekend instead of expecting people to remember a specific weekend.

People participating in the DORA must use a specific cup purchased for a set price to be able to go outside. There can also be a wristband required. Several vendors at the meeting questioned the rules regarding the cups, on whether the cups can go from place to place or do people have to buy a new cup for each place. Vendors appeared to like the idea of wristbands, making it easier to spot people who were already carded as legal to drink. Drinks would be purchased from the participating vendors.

The details of how the DORA would operate would need to be determined.

Councilman Sal Salvino asked about how the rules would be enforced for providing alcohol to a minor, with Police Chief J.T. Panezott commenting that the rules in place now would still be in place for the DORA with the exception of the open container. He said there will have to be a lot of education of the public and his officers, too, for what’s allowed. As for bands being allowed outside, Panezott noted there’s a noise ordinance.

“The laws still apply. Public intoxication won’t be tolerated. Drinking and driving won’t be tolerated,” he said.

He was also quick to say, though, that the police department isn’t opposed the idea of a DORA.

Councilman Geoff Goll said the law is really specific on what’s required regarding protecting the public safety, such as staffing for security and a sanitation plan, and they’ll have to determine what’s needed and what that’s going to cost. Law Director Brooke Zellers said Canton overestimated their costs at first for police and realized an increased presence wasn’t necessary. The money for the cups and wristbands would go to the city and offset any costs for more police or for trash containers. He also pointed out the city has a municipal events fund that could be used for this.

“This isn’t as though there are troughs of liquor that we’re dipping our cups into,” he said, noting people still have to go into an established liquor establishment to buy their alcohol. If they go outside, though, it has to be in the designated cup.

Councilman Roy Paparodis, who is part owner of BB Rooners, commented about outside vendors, saying they should be limited or restrict them to vendors from Salem, which several business managers and owners agreed with.

Soph Paparodis, who owns and operates BB Rooners, said he’s in favor of the idea, particularly to keep people in the city and keep the money in the community. He said it would be good for Salem’s businesses and good for the city as a whole. Rick Metts, who owns Ricky’s English Pub, agreed that it would be good for the community and to bring people in from outside the area. He favored doing it a couple days a week, such as Fridays and Saturdays.

Other business representatives who spoke included Coaches owner Patrick Howlett, Boneshakers manager Adam Geer, Flying Pig owner Eric Ameduri, who was there with his mother, owner Lorrie Seaver, and Lisa Cahill, owner of Courtyard Square. All said the DORA could be beneficial to their businesses and the downtown in general.

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