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Open Container Districts: Not As Big A Priority In Cleveland As In Other Parts Of Ohio?

Photo by Flickr's Bill Dickinson.
Photo by Flickr's Bill Dickinson.

Under a recently-approved bill, Ohioans can openly carry beer and other alcoholic drinks in designated sites outdoors.  Depending on size, a city can have one or two areas exempt from the state’s containment law, with the idea of creating entertainment districts similar to New Orlean’s Bourbon Street or Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.  But as ideastream’s Brian Bull reports, the news is being met with some hesitation in Cleveland.


An emergency clause was penned into the bill, meaning once Governor Kasich signed it, it took effect immediately.

Many backers saw this as a way to get outdoor refreshment areas set up ahead of big events, including Cincinatti’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 14 th

But for Cleveland – which is hosting the RNC next year – the response seems indifferent or wary, according to Ward 3 City Councilman Joe Cimperman. 

“When I talk to people, they’re like, “Well…it’s not really appropriate for West 25 th,” says Cimperman.  "One person said to me who lives on East 4 th Street, 'Do you want to live above an open container district, Joe?'”

Cimperman says the city should do things that already enhance the quality of life in an area, and he’s not sure if an open container law does that.  

Matt Zone of Ward 15 says he doesn’t see the necessity to implement it for Gordon Square or elsewhere, saying they’ve a thriving arts district in a residential area that just has no desire for open container events.

That hesitation is shared by Sam McNulty, proprietor of the Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City.  He says an open container area could really change the character of the neighborhood…from cleanliness to public conduct. 

“I do think open container would cause uncontrolled overconsumption, and just really spill problems out into the street.  I just don’t think it fits in with the family-friendly, very convivial atmosphere we’ve worked hard to create in Ohio City.”

But others say an open container area could really work out great.  Eric McGarvey is an entrepreneur and Flats West resident.  He acknowledges places like the Flats East area has seen rowdy and seedy drinking parties in the past, but thinks there could be a solid payoff for tourism and commerce as long as open containers are kept to clean and new developments, and community policing is factored in. 

“Police that are friendly, they’re approachable," adds McGarvey. "And when issues do arrive, these officers deal with them quickly and effectively without 911 having to be involved.  And there needs to be clear expectations and they need to be backed up with clear and concise consequences for any lewd or inappropriate behavior.” 

But nothing can happen in Cleveland until the City Council reviews the open container measure and enacts legislation to incorporate it.  And Councilman Cimperman says if public reaction is indifferent, action here may not be as immediate as in other parts of Ohio.