Moscow approves new leisure district

Moscow business owners and city council voted unanimously on Monday evening for an entertainment district in the city center that would allow event attendees to freely drink beer and wine on the streets and sidewalks within the district boundaries.

With a 5-0 vote – Councilor Anne Zabala was absent – the council approved an ordinance creating the new district and an exception to the ordinance on “open containers” of the city law within the district. The Open Container Ordinance prohibits the possession of alcoholic beverages in public or publicly accessible places, including public roads and public paths.

“The vibrancy of downtown Moscow has long been Moscow’s calling card and we all agree that it is one of our favorite features and we believe the entertainment district will add and enhance that vibrancy,” said Samantha Martinet, Executive Director of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce . “That’s why we appreciate the creative and future-oriented approach of the mayor and the city council in maintaining Moscow’s magical inner city.”

In addition to Martinet, five people spoke out in favor of the circle on Monday evening, including representatives from three companies.

City Supervisor Gary Riedner said the concept started with the Artwalk, where many participants enjoy drinking beer or wine but are restricted to certain rooms where alcohol is allowed. So they had to finish their drink or leave it halfway before they could enjoy art in another shop.

“I think there was the idea that it would be nice if we could have an exception that we could allow open containers with beer and wine in the public right of way within certain limits,” said Riedner.

Currently, those looking to drink a brew at downtown events or other events like Rendezvous in the Park in East City Park can do so at sidewalk cafes or beer gardens.

The entertainment district boundaries include D Street to the north, Washington Street to the east, Lewis Street to the south, and Jackson Street to the west. It would also extend west on West Sixth Street to Deakin Avenue, near Patty’s Mexican Kitchen and Catering.

For the sale and consumption of alcohol on streets and sidewalks in the district, event applicants must still obtain the approval of the city council.

While the planned district includes the city center and part of West Sixth Street, the exception for open containers only applies in the area of ​​the district that the applicant has applied for for the event. For example, if the event is on Main Street from Third Street to Sixth Street, a person is prohibited from walking down a West Sixth Street sidewalk with an open alcohol container even though the street is within the county limits.

Councilor Sandra Kelly said the entertainment district will be family-friendly, although some might say that people who drink alcohol will not make it a healthy environment. She said beer gardens separate families with children because only those can be 21 or older in the garden.

“That keeps families together,” said Kelly. “This way families can enjoy the whole thing together.”

In other matters the Council approved:

The fee resolution for the 2022 financial year, which will come into force on October 1, 2021. Several typical fees have increased, including land use and development fees, permit fees, and inspection fees. Moscow residents will also experience a 5 percent increase in water flow, a 2.25 percent increase in sewage charges and a new monthly rainwater use charge of $ 7.92 per equivalent service unit.

About 90 percent of Moscow households fall on an equivalent service unit, so each pays $ 7.92 per month.

The fee increases are due to the additional costs associated with providing services including administration, operation and maintenance.

A property manager was one of three people who spoke in favor of the fee resolution during the public hearing, saying that the $ 100 deposit was not enough because his company was taking on the financial burden of unpaid water, sewer, and garbage bills for tenants takes over. The council increased this deposit from $ 100 to $ 125.

The council also approved that city staff will submit a grant application under the American Rescue Plan Act through the National Endowment for the Arts, up to a maximum of $ 100,000. The grant would support staff costs, marketing and advertising, as well as artists / fees and grants.

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