Greeley To Allow Open Containers Downtown

Ordinance Similar To What's In Place On Las Vegas Strip

Feel free to take your drink with you.

Much like the Las Vegas strip, Greeley is hoping to be the first city in Colorado to allow open alcohol containers on the streets.

Many business owners say it will attract people back to historic downtown Greeley, which has struggled to draw crowds in recent years.

The city council adopted an ordinance Tuesday night that would allow for open containers on 9th Street on Fridays from 5 p.m. to midnight.

"And I'm very proud to be a part of it," said Jeannette Garza, manager of the Armadillo restaurant. "There are a lot of smart people who worked really hard to make this happen."

Greeley passed the ordinance allowing cocktails, beer and wine on 9th Street during the summer months. The ordinance comes on the heels of a new state law that allows communities to offer open container entertainment districts.

"I think it gets kind of hot inside and people want to go outside, but they're not allowed to. So, then they just end up leaving," said University of Northern Colorado junior Lauren Beam.

"And we really have the perfect physical set-up here in Greeley for this," said Alison Hamling with the Greeley Downtown Development Authority. "We have easily closed off places that are only one way each way with gates that we can close off for special events."

The new state law paved the way, but some fear it could get out of control.

"I think it's a good idea in theory, it just needs to be regulated," said UNC graduate Lisa Reams.

"I grew up in Fort Collins and I don't want to see downtown Greeley become another combat zone like what the police down there deal with," said Garza, referring to some recent situations involving scuffles after the Fort Collins Brewfest. "I know that won't happen. We are trying to make this a family affair."

Unlike Brewfest, which is a sanctioned event where street vendors serve alcohol in a certain fenced-off area, Greeley's ordinance would allow people to purchase drinks inside bars and restaurants and walk on the streets with those drinks.

Greeley police are supportive of the idea.

"We're actually glad for anything that helps downtown," said Greeley police spokeswoman Sgt. Susan West. "Our only concern here is the quantity and quality of the security. We absolutely support anything that helps revitalize downtown."

Restaurants like Tavola are already poised to provide their own security.

"This is a chance for people to get out and enjoy the beautiful Colorado sunshine," said Tavola general manager Mike Dieter. "It is also required that each establishment has to have a pre-approved 16-ounce cup with the logo so that if someone becomes unruly, we know where the drink came from and who was serving it."

"We're not aiming at the college crowd. We're really aiming at families and young professionals," said Hamling.

"Students don't spend money. The adults do. And they know the value of their dollar. We want to bring them back here," said Garza.

Greeley's ordinance would require drinks to be carried in plastic cups, no glass. It would also require those of age to wear bracelets.

The state law passed last year was intended for a district in Glendale which hasn't even been built yet.

Greeley's new policy could be in effect as early as May.

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