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Downtown "Common Consumption Area" Up For Consideration

Picture this. You come downtown on a Friday after a long week of work. There is a GREAT band playing on the 9th street plaza that you'd like to hear. You're really ready for a Rio Margarita but their patio is full. It's beautiful out and you don't want to sit inside. You go in, order your margarita and it is given to you in a 16oz "to go" cup with "RIO" clearly marked in lettering on the side. You carry your margarita back outside, find a place in the shade, relax, and enjoy. 

Some kind of weird dream? No. This could be reality soon in downtown Greeley due to a bill passed in Colorado last May which allows us to establish this special district.

You may have read about the common consumption area proposed for a section of downtown Greeley. Since not everyone subscribes to the Greeley Tribune's online content we decided to share it with you here. We realize that anytime you talk about people walking around with alcohol in their cups it can raise some very valid concerns. We welcome your calls, questions and concerns. It is our belief that establishment of this "entertainment district" would be a great leap forward in our efforts to continue the momentum of growth downtown is now enjoying. 

Remember our Friday Fests? It's really no different than those events except you can get your drink of choice at your favorite establishment rather than the limited choices traditionally available at a "beer tent." We would have security on hand, drinkers would have wrist bands after showing the proper ID, the hours will be limited, and with all the establishments involved, the potential for great entertainment increases almost tenfold!

Here is the text from the article. We look forward to your support!

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Bars and restaurants of downtown Greeley might have a bit of a Mardi Gras feel this summer — the city council gave the initial go-ahead Tuesday to work toward a specified area that would allow alcoholic beverages outside.

The 9th Street plaza would likely make up the core of the proposed “common consumption” area, said Becky Safarik, Greeley’s community development director, at the council work session. But first, the council must approve an ordinance to establish a wider Entertainment District, which would give businesses in the area the option to join together to form a “promotional association.” City staff aims to present to the council an ordinance to establish the district on Feb. 21, Safarik said. 

The movement stems from a bill approved by the Legislature last year that allows Colorado communities to create designated areas for regular outdoor consumption instead of just special events.

If the new designation comes through, Greeley would be the first community in Colorado to take advantage of the bill, said Alison Hamling, director of downtown experience for Greeley’s Downtown Development Authority, which brought the idea to the city.

So far, Glendale is the only other city in the state known to be pursuing the project. While its city manager authored the bill, its consumption area probably won’t come to fruition for another few years, she said.

Once the new Entertainment District is established by the city council, the promotional association would essentially govern itself, with the DDA as a controlling member, Safarik said. Those within the district have the option to decline membership in the association, but it must be made up of at least two members who own or lease property in the Entertainment District. 

Members would control operations of the consumption area under requirements set by the state law and the city. For example, the area must have physical barriers, and members would pay for security personnel and maintenance, Safarik said. Beverages from participating businesses must be in disposable cups no larger than 16 oz., and with their name on the cup in a minimum of 24-point font.

Safarik said the next year could serve as a trial period for the city, in which the consumption area would be open every Friday night, sometime between noon and 1 a.m. The program could then open up for public review to track police service calls or other issues, she said.

At this point, the council can change or add any provisions to the new initiative.

Hamling said the possibilities of the open container rule are endless, from retail stores that could benefit from the additional revenue, to members pooling together to get a band to play on the block, to the simple attraction a common area like this would bring downtown.

“We’re happy to abide by any stipulations to make this happen,” Hamling said. 

She told the council she doesn’t have many worries regarding security — as the plaza is now, there is none when the bars close at 2 a.m.

“That’s where my worries about students are assuaged,” Hamling said, because the program would actually bring more security to the area.

Mayor Tom Norton said he would like police to do a background check on the private security hired for the area. Otherwise, he said the idea sounds promising.

“Let’s get the details and see where they go,” Norton said.

Police Chief Jerry Garner said he isn’t concerned about security either.

“The key is quality and quantity,” Garner said. He said a good trick is to overstaff security the first few times, and then taper off. “If it’s handled well — and I think it will be — we won’t have any concerns.”