Proposed arts district with relaxed drinking laws may open soon - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Proposed arts district with relaxed drinking laws may open soon

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The two districts will be open under the relaxed open container laws from 5 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. The two districts will be open under the relaxed open container laws from 5 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.

A transformation of downtown Huntsville is in the works for this summer. The idea is to turn portions of the city's center into "arts and entertainment districts" where people can legally walk around with an alcoholic beverage in hand.

The larger of the two districts covers the heart of downtown, stretching from Holmes Avenue down to Gates Avenue and over to Big Spring Park. It also includes the Von Braun Center, the Holiday Inn and Embassy Suites, as well as the Huntsville Museum of Art. This area is being called the Quigley District.

The second and smaller district centers around Bud Cramer Park and the nearby bars and restaurants, such as Furniture Factory Bar and Grill, and Lone Goose Saloon.

The city will have the district boundaries clearly marked with signs.

The two districts will be open under the relaxed open container laws from 5 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Groups holding special events can also request other days and times for the districts to open.

Under the relaxed drinking rules, you cannot bring alcohol from home into either district, and you cannot carry a drink from one establishment into another establishment.

"Also you will have to have a plastic cup. We are not allowing any glass containers, so when you leave an establishment, your drink would be placed into a plastic cup. It would either have the name of the district or the name of the establishment on it, so that we know you are legally drinking alcohol within the district," explained Huntsville's Manager of Planning Administration, Marie Bostick.

There are some potential concerns the city is working to prevent. Those concerns involve safety issues, noise levels, and an increase in litter.

How to handle those issues is not set in stone, but having a police presence in the area, and more manpower to cleanup are some of the ideas.  

The city hasn't determined what those "extras" will cost, but they do expect to pay more.

"I think the biggest thing is just making sure things are balanced and that we control the hours and activities in an effort to avoid any issues for our residential areas," said Bostick.

City officials spearheading the project say bringing in these "arts and entertainment districts" would give a big boost to the downtown.

They believe getting people out and walking around will draw bigger crowds to the area, bring in new businesses and events, as well as generate more revenue.

Not all businesses within the district boundaries have to participate. City officials say businesses can choose to be exempt from the relaxed open container laws.

City council members may vote on the proposal at their next meeting in two weeks.

If the ordinance is passed, it would go into effect on June 20th, just in time for the Sidewalk Arts Stroll.

Council members will meet 90 days after the ordinance goes into effect to discuss any problems and make necessary changes.

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