GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis City Commission met this week discussing the work being done by Columbia Gas and hearing the proposal of a Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA).
Commissioners Cody Caldwell, Michael Fulks, Michael Brown and Tony Gallagher were present. Commissioner Beau Sang was absent.
City Manager Dow Saunders started the meeting by giving a report of what he has been working on, including meeting with Shari Rocchi and Lori Kelly with Brett Bostic, Gallipolis code officer, to discuss Gallipolis in Lights.
“We did a checklist, kind of, operational list of what was still needed from the city, etc.,” Saunders said. “We’ve had good coordination, I think it’s coming together. I’d like to commend city crews for everything [they’re] doing to get the park and the streets ready.”
Saunders said the city crew has hung banners, mowed the park to handle the leaf and mulching and overall helping prepare for Gallipolis in Lights and the visitors to the town.
Saunders said working with Bostic and Brynn Noe, city solicitor, initial public nuisance notices have been sent to several property owners, with follow-ups done by certified mail. He said there has been discussion on looking at the specifics of the ordinances and possibly restructuring them or establishing specific ordinances to address reoccurring issues.
In a recent meeting with Columbia Gas representatives and Bostic, Saunders said the future of the work was discussed.
“The bottom line is, R&L Piping will finish around December 17, Columbia Gas will be working on restorative [work] that may have temporary sealing on the trenches and that type of thing,” Saunders said. “The restorative work with Columbia Gas is probably going to be into next spring.”
Local citizen, Marvin Ours, spoke to the commission on his concern of the temporary patching and the large trucks coming through, saying the houses are experiencing a lot of rattling and things falling from walls.
Saunders said they have been walking the area and addressing any issues with Columbia Gas and monitoring the temporary capping, making sure things stayed sealed. Fulks said he is also watching the project closely to ensure things are done properly.
“I think downtown has not looked as good as it looks in a long, long time,” Fulks said as the meeting moved into discussion.
Downtown Revitalization Project (DRP) members, Nick Roach and Jodie Penrod spoke to the commissioners about the possibility of applying for DORA.
“We‘re here… just to start and establish a conversation with you all,” Roach said. “[DORA], one of those hot things that’s popping up across the state and country. We’re here to collaborate with you all and really just jump start things in considering this. We feel it is something that can improve the downtown area and promote foot traffic for the retail businesses; some additional patrons for the bars and restaurants downtown.”
Roach said this was the very beginning stages of the project, later noting this is generally something done by the city manager and councils, but the DRP want to support the project as much as possible.
“It has been successful in a lot of other communities, most notably Marietta, quite close to us here,” Roach said. “A lot of success there, in just bringing people out and really enhancing the community and the experience that our citizens can have.”
Roach provided commissioners with a packet of information on DORA for them to review.
DORA would allow patrons to purchase an alcoholic beverage from a local venue and take it out of the restaurant, as long as it is in the specified and approved cup, is during the specified hours and stays within the designated DORA area.
Local citizen, Claudia Miller, said she would like to see the cups be something recyclable with the proper receptacles in place to encourage that, something Penrod said she agreed with.
The DORA has to be 150 contiguous acres, Roach said.
Gallagher asked who would police the area to ensure drinks are not carried all over.
“There’s got to be signage to meet the different criteria as far as establishing that area” Roach said. “As far as policing of that area, the beverage has to be purchased from a local establishment, it is by no means a BYOB [bring your own beverage] or anything like that where you can just come downtown and have a beer or some type of alcoholic beverage.”
Roach said the DRP has been in contact with the Gallipolis City Police.
There isn’t necessarily a force or a team that would be there to police this,” Roach said. “But we do have some support from Mr. [Jeff] Boyer, that the police department has seen success in other cities with this and they feel that it is something that they can handle, in making sure that [it] remains in control and isn’t something that people are just moseying outside of the designated area.”
Penrod said all of the solutions have not been hammered out, but she hopes a partnership can be formed.
“I think we come here tonight, not necessarily having all the solutions, but hoping to at least partner with you all in developing what those solutions might be in order to make a success or potentially pilot it,” Penrod said.
“The interested parties can make this look however they want, within these state guidelines,” Caldwell said.
“The downtown group has worked really hard to try to bring additional people into the downtown,” Saunders said. “This is kind of a continuation of the First Friday and all the other events and kind of uses it throughout the area.”
No decision was made on the DORA project, but the commission expressed interest in continuing discussion with the DRP on the project.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.