Residents voice support, concerns about proposed Miamisburg outdoor drinking area

Miamisburg City Council is scheduled to vote May 4 on a proposed outdoor drinking area in downtown Miamisburg. STAFF FILE PHOTO

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Miamisburg City Council is scheduled to vote May 4 on a proposed outdoor drinking area in downtown Miamisburg. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Despite the establishment of dozens of outdoor drinking areas in communities statewide and how well received they may be received here, Miamisburg residents and city council members have concerns over such an area proposed for the city’s downtown.

Residents and business owners in the city’s growing downtown say the creation of a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area, or a DORA, would directly help restaurants and bars by boosting alcohol sales.

Andy Alford, a member of the Miamisburg Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and a resident of the downtown Canal District, said board members unanimously agreed the city should move forward with the outdoor drinking area.

“We felt the staff had done a very good job of researching the issue by reaching out to over 60 jurisdictions in the region and finding zero issues with any of them,” Alford said. “They not only talked to city leaders, but also community committees and other leaders of the towns that they covered.”

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Alford said Miamisburg must not look at the past, but toward the future and do whatever it can do to help the businesses that chose Miamisburg to make a living, he said.

“We feel this is a small way we can give back to them by helping their business,” Alford said.

Lifelong Miamisburg resident Molly Williams, who owns specialty shop M & Company and interior design business Ivy Designs, said the outdoor drinking area will benefit all downtown businesses because visitors are able to stroll to the park, walk to the bike path and discover businesses that might go unnoticed by those initially planning to stop by only one.

“It would benefit all of us if we’re sharing our customers and sharing our traffic,” Williams said.

In its proposed format, the 41.2-acre outdoor drinking area would be bordered by Ferry Street to the north, Second Street to the east, most of Miami Avenue to the west and just south of Linden Avenue with a small portion continuing further south past Lock Street.

It would run from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Friday and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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Some residents say its size, hours and borders must be modified to lessen the possible negative impact they believe it may have on the community.

Tim Maddox, 68, who said he was born and raised in Miamisburg, said he initially believed that keeping people inside would prevent the city from returning to the drunken revelry and fighting he saw spill out onto city streets when he was a young boy.

But he said he now believes the city should move forward with the outdoor drinking area, but limit it to weekdays and try it out for a set amount of time before finalizing any aspect of it.

Doug Sorrell of Miamisburg said after talking with officials and businesses in the cities of Hamilton and Middletown, both of which both established outdoor drinking areas years ago, he believes such an area may increase foot traffic, but doesn’t do much to enhance retail sales.

“Do I think this is going to pass? Yes, I do,” Sorrell said, addressing Miamisburg City Council during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting “But I think you need to think hard and long about what controls you want to have on this so it is, in fact, successful.”

Tom Croskey of Miamisburg said he is not against drinking in a controlled, defined area, but he does not believe anyone needs to walk around it or any other city with an open container.

“We were pretty shocked at my church, Trinity Church, that you brought the boundary to the church doors, that you included our park,” Croskey said. “I’m afraid you’re going to approve this. I don’t think you should.”

He said he submitted more than 70 signatures, including 12 business owners who are against the outdoor drinking area.

“We’ll get more if we need to do a referendum,” Croskey said.

Such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented. Referendum petitions seeking to challenge Troy City Council’s vote to approve an established outdoor drinking area there recently were filed with the city.

Miamisburg City Council is scheduled to vote on outdoor drinking area during its regularly scheduled May 4 meeting. Council members said they will discuss various tweaks that can be made to the proposed area prior to that vote.

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