Grove City's Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area will now be in effect on Sundays and during the annual Homecoming Celebration held in the Town Center.
City Council on June 20 voted 3-2 to add Sunday as a permitted day under the DORA regulations that have been in effect on the other days of the week since 2019.
Visitors to the Town Center may purchase an alcoholic beverage in a DORA-designated cup at a participating establishment and take the beverage with them as they stroll and visit other businesses within the DORA boundaries.
The original DORA boundaries were expanded in 2021 to include the space just east of the old Grove City Library site on Park Street, on the other side of Arbutus Avenue and the east side of Broadway extending south from Civic Place to Mojo on Broadway, 4094 Broadway.
The original DORA program was established for Mondays through Saturdays but did not include Sundays. The DORA program also was prohibited on special "family-oriented" event days in the Town Center, including Homecoming, which is held in conjunction with the annual Grove City Alumni Softball Tournament, Boo Off Broadway/Beggars Night and the city's Christmas Celebration.
Council member Randy Holt sponsored legislation to remove all special-event and Sunday exclusions.
Council considered a motion to amend Holt's legislation and maintain the prohibition of a Sunday DORA, but that motion failed by a 3-2 vote. A "no" vote meant the council member wanted to move forward with the ordinance's original intention to add Sundays to the DORA program.
Council members Roby Schottke and Mark Sigrist joined Holt in casting a "no" vote for the amendment. Council members Christine Houk and Ted Berry voted in favor of the amendment, which meant they preferred continuing to exclude Sundays from the DORA calendar.
Schottke and other council members expressed concern about another provision of the ordinance to remove all of the family-oriented special events from the DORA exclusion.
Although the state allowing liquor sales on Sunday probably means "the horse is already out of the barn" regarding the Sunday DORA issue, Schottke said, he still is hesitant about allowing the DORA calendar to include all the special events that draw large numbers of children to the Town Center, especially Boo Off Broadway and the Christmas Celebration.
Restaurants and bars already are selling alcohol on Sundays in the Town Center, Holt said.
"I don't understand what the issue is" regarding extending DORA to Sundays, he said.
It simply means people who already are purchasing alcoholic beverages will be able to carry their beverages with them from a restaurant or bar patio to the sidewalk and as they visit other businesses, he said.
'It's kind of a chicken-or-egg type of question," he said.
A motion to amend Holt's ordinance so that the exclusion of DORA on the days that Boo Off Broadway/Beggars Night and Christmas Celebration events are held would continue was approved by a unanimous 5-0 vote, meaning the prohibition continues during those events.
Although she has no problem with expanding DORA to include the Homecoming Celebration, Houk said, she was in favor of limiting the DORA calendar so that it doesn't include other family events.
"That allows families to move around without open containers in the Town Center community," she said.
The DORA is to be in effect for Homecoming, which is scheduled for July 29.
The idea of expanding the DORA calendar doesn't appeal to Grove City resident Connie Tucker, who is the director of the local Father Heart Ministries.
As she had done when DORA originally was approved in 2019, Tucker spoke in opposition to the concept of having an open-container law in the Town Center.
"I come as a spiritual leader in our region to say I'm not in favor of (DORA)," Tucker said. "I'd like to see it done away with."
Making it easier to openly consume alcohol likely encourages undesirable behavior and helps draw the type of person who might be drawn to a type of lifestyle drug and alcohol use promotes, she said.
Tucker said she speaks from her own experience. She grew up surrounded by family members who drank, and it led her to start drinking herself by the age of 12.
It took her a decade before she was able to straighten out her own life and stop drinking, Tucker said.
The question city officials should ask themselves is whether the DORA program is helping or taking away from the effort to combat drug and alcohol misuse in the community, she said.
Although exact data has not been collected, the record of police calls to the Town Center indicate the DORA has led to "very little adverse activity" in the Town Center, Mayor Richard 'Ike' Stage said.
The DORA program has been expanded in stages, with few issues reported, he said.
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Grove City DORA will be in effect Sundays, for Homecoming Celebration