Nelsonville Council OKs Alcohol On Public Square

Posted on:

< < Back to

Despite the fact that some members of Nelsonville City Council previously expressed opposition to the Nelsonville Chamber of Commerce’s proposal to allow alcohol to be consumed at events on the Public Square, the measure easily passed during Monday’s Council meeting.

The proposal was originally brought forward by Nelsonville Chamber of Commerce board member Miki Brooks, who said that allowing organizations to serve alcohol on the Square would bring more visitors and dollars to the city. She specifically mentioned allowing alcohol during the annual Ohio Smoked Meat and Barbecue Festival.

On Monday, Brooks said that permitting alcohol on the Square would open the door for nonprofits to hold more lucrative fundraisers. She pointed to the Athens Foundation’s Bounty on the Bricks fundraiser as an example. Bounty on the Bricks is a fundraising dinner held on Court Street in Athens to raise funds for area food pantries.

In prior discussions, Councilman Greg Smith expressed concerns with the proposal, stating that allowing alcohol on the Square could lead to underage consumption and would be too taxing on the city’s police force. He said previously that he wasn’t opposed to the idea of a beer garden in which only those 21 and older are permitted.

However, when it came time to vote, no Council members expressed any opposition. The measure passed with six votes. Council President Kevin Dotson, who also serves as Chamber president, abstained from the vote. There was no Council discussion on the matter prior to the vote.

The ordinance — which is an amendment to the city’s exhibitions, processions and parades law — will allow nonprofit groups to serve beer and wine in clearly defined areas on the Public Square. The area in which alcohol is served must also be “sufficiently restricted to allow proper enforcement of the permit by state and local law enforcement officers and approved by the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Liquor Control.”

The Public Square is defined in the ordinance as “the street and fountain area of the Nelsonville Public Square, but not including any public sidewalk or any portion of Washington Street or Columbus Street.”

Following the vote, Brooks told The Messenger that she was surprised that the ordinance received so much support from Council. She said that the Chamber is excited about the decision.

“We’re moving in the right direction to better utilize the beautiful Public Square,” she said. “The fountain in the Public Square will make a beautiful backdrop for classy events.”