Monday, August 5, 2019

Council plans to allow open containers of alcoholic drinks outdoors until 10 p.m. in downtown area

Google map, with Xs added by Midway Messenger to show limits
of the proposed "entertainment destination center," where the city
would post signs banning open containers beyond those points.
The Midway City Council tentatively decided Monday night the boundaries and rules of a proposed "entertainment destination center," in which drinkers can go in and out of licensed premises with alcoholic beverages as long as they stay within the center's boundaries.

Mayor Grayson Vandegrift called the proposal, which the council heard July 15, an "open container ordinance." It is possible under a recent state regulation that allows cities to buy a license for $2,800. The rationale stated by the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is to reduce the enforcement load on ABC agents and police, and to help localities promote tourism and economic growth.

The Versailles City Council recently adopted the idea, allowing the mayor to set and change the dates when its center will be effective. Vandegrift said Midway council members "seem to be more in favor a permanent, set time" that the council would establish with an ordinance.

"The point of the ordinance is to allow people to walk around and shop," Vandegrift said, but later asked how many shops are open at night, saying he was "playing devil's advocate." Council Member Kaye Nita Gallagher mentioned a couple of shops, adding later that even if shops were not open, they would still attract window shoppers.

Council Member Logan Nance asked if more stores might stay open later if the council passed the ordinance, which he said would give the city "kind of a unique feel." Council Member John Holloway said, "If it turns out badly, we could just stop doing it."

The council agreed to end the open-container hours at 10 p.m., the discussed what the containers would look like. Versailles requires beverages to be in an unbreakable, "non-clear" container, such as a plastic Solo cup, perhaps in a style all the restaurants could use.

Council Member Stacy Thurman said her husband Ian, an ABC agent, said one reason for such a rule is that it is "kind of tacky" to see what someone is drinking. Council Member Sara Hicks said, "I kind of like the idea of a special cup; it could be a collector's item."

Vandegrift, a former restaurateur, called it "a great idea" but ultimately "untenable" because use of the cups would likely be inconsistent. The mayor said he would leave the "non-clear" provision out of the ordinance that he would present to the council Aug. 19, but "You all can put it in."

If the ordinance is enacted and the city buys the license, it would have to post signs marking the limits of the "entertainment destination center."

Vandegrift presented a map of the proposed boundary where open containers would be allowed, and the council made one adjustment, to allow them on Dudley Street in front of The Brown Barrel and Blind Harry's. The other limits would be the corner of Gratz and Martin streets, Winter Street and the end of East Main Street. In response to a question, Vandegrift said the parking lot at the end of East Main is private property and cannot be included in the boundary.

Midway Station: John Soper, chair of the Woodford County Economic Development Authority, reported that recent closings of property sales in Midway Station had enabled EDA to make the annual interest payment on the bonds used to build the industrial and commercial park, relieving the city and county of the responsibility, and that if sales continue as expected and the bonds are refinanced this year, EDA will no longer need an appropriation from the city, which was $15,000 last year and is budgeted at $12,000 this year.

The most recent closing was on 9 acres sold to Journey Ministries, which plans to build a church and other facilities, including a day-care center that will be open to anyone. "I feel very encouraged about where we're heading," he said, adding later, "I think we've got a great location, and in the real-estate business, that's what matters."

Soper did not mention something he reported at last month's EDA meeting, that Barnhill Chimney had decided not to buy a lot for a factory to make chimney caps.
Receiving certificates of appreciation from the Midway Veterans Committee were, from left to right, City Council Member Sara Hicks, chair of the Cemetery and City Property Committee; city employees James Downs, Terry Agee, Tim Agee and  Tim Spencer; and Sonya Conner, assistant city clerk. Retired clerk-treasurer Phyllis Hudson also received a certificate.
Good works: The Midway Veterans Committee, created 20 years ago to establish a monument to veterans in the Midway Cemetery, presented certificates of appreciation to several city employees as it prepared to disband, having accomplished its purpose and turning its functions over to the city.

One of those workers, Assistant City Clerk Sonya Conner, received an award for her recent completion of three years of municipal-clerk training. Vandegrift read a letter of recognition that said she had "sincere dedication to her work and the people of Midway," demonstrated "consistent, sound judgment and fairness to all" and "in the face of adversity" often did the jobs of two people, as recently retired clerk-treasurer Phyllis Hudson had health issues.

Vandegrift also recognized the contributions of Mark Roberts, a retired employee who continues to work for the city as a contract laborer, and Wastewater Superintendent Jack Blevins, who "has done a great job bringing our sewer plant back up to specifications," probably extending its useful life by 10 to 15 years. The city recently paid off the bonds it sold to build the plant almost 20 years ago.

Later in the meeting, Holloway said it was time to buy a $1,700 monument-moving machine for the cemetery. Vandegrift said he had already told city employee Terry Agee to order it.

Mayor breaks a tie: The council turned down a request from Midway University's tennis program to sponsor a regional tournament to be held at the school Aug. 9-11. The request was for $600, but Hicks moved to give $300, the sum the council provided last year, and Gallagher seconded the motion, noting that this year's event is expected to be larger.

Holloway said "I kind of feel iffy" about the sponsorship because the city recently gave the university $5,000 for improvements at the baseball field that is owned by the city but is "pretty much" exclusively used by the school. Nance, noting that the council had exhausted its donations budget by giving $5,000 toward a van for The Homeplace at Midway, said it would be irresponsible to go beyond the budget.

On the roll call, Council Member Bruce Southworth voted yes with Hicks and Gallagher, and Council Member Stacy Thurman voted no with Holloway and Nance -- who, like her, were elected for the first time last November. Vandegrift, who was elected to his second four-year term as mayor in November, voted no, denying the request. The mayor votes only in case of a tie.

In other business, the council:
  • Approved paying $1,100 for extra police during the Midway Fall Festival, the amount that the city is saving because the Iron Horse Marathon is providing portable toilets for the newly combined events. The Midway Business Association, which runs the festival, will pay the rest of the cost, estimated by coordinator Elisha Holt to be a maximum of $1,560.
  • Voiced no objections to Vandegrift's plan to allow electronic payment of water bills, with a fee of 3 to 4 percent for the vendor, which would be paid by those who choose the electronic option. "Three to four percent is still less than a late fee," Nance noted.
  • Heard Vandegrift report that the sidewalk work is almost done and street work is expected to start in a week or two.
  • Heard Assistant Police Chief Rob Young report that in July, Versailles police "definitely stepped up a lot of the traffic enforcement . . . at the request of the city."
  • Appointed Assistant Fire Chief Joe Campbell to the county's 911 board.

No comments: