Worthington City Council Sept. 13 authorized the continued use of the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area in Old Worthington with its pilot-study hours, seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The authorization didn’t require a formal vote because the changes to the DORA’s days and times of operation were put into place by council when it began the pilot July 1. The DORA previously had been used only for special events, but was extended to give a boost to small businesses who have been hit hard by the economic slowdown related to the pandemic.
The DORA, about five acres along both sides of High Street south of the Village Green, allows patrons to imbibe alcoholic drinks purchased from one of the establishments within the outdoor designated area. Sidewalk signs generally indicate the DORA..
Should voters Nov. 2 approve the new Chapala Mexican Restaurant at South and High streets getting its liquor license, the DORA will have 13 establishments registered to take part.
Assistant City Manager and Director of Development David McCorkle Sept. 13 presented data gathered during the 90-day DORA pilot study, originally scheduled to end Sept. 30.
McCorkle said 514 mailers went to property owners in the historic district, over which the DORA boundaries coincide and encompass. A city Facebook post solicited feedback.
Overall, just two of the 44 responses to the city’s latest outreach about the DORA were not in favor of keeping the study’s days and hours, McCorkle said.
“Half of the total number of responses came from people in the historic district,” McCorkle told council.
“We had no reports of police action,” he said, nor were the fire or service departments called, for fire emergencies or sanitation, respectively.
McCorkle supplied summaries of support from the public and businesses, as well as opposition figures.
Ten members of the public noted that the DORA supports local business, while four said Worthington “needs to keep pace” with other communities with similar areas.
The DORA helped to enhance events held in the area and increased pedestrian traffic, according to responses from the public and businesses.
The two unfavorable responses cited the possibility of drunk people walking around, and that the DORA should only see the light of day or night for events and-or weekends.
Perhaps the high point of the study period was when House Wine went from sales of 30 drinks on a previous Sunday Funday to 397 on Aug. 15.
“That was quite a bit higher than usual,” said House Wine’s Jim Scarfpin. The store, which has not been open on Sundays, except for special events, has a license to sell its beverages in retail carryout on Sundays.
The store Nov. 2 seeks approval from Worthington voters in district 2-B to add on-premises sales on Sunday. More than 700 voters live in that district, he said.
“I’m optimistic it will pass,” Scarfpin said. “If it passes, we’ll probably be open every Sunday after that.”
Joint Recreation District still under discussion
A proposed Joint Recreation District involving the city of Worthington and Worthington City Schools to fund and oversee the renovation of three outdoor and one indoor city pools on the grounds of Thomas Worthington High School continues to be in its early planning stages.
“We expressed an interest in continuing to discuss the creation of a JRD with the city of Worthington. Nothing is planned … at this time,” according to school district Director of Communication Vicki Gnezda.
City Manager Matt Greeson said city staff began by working on a resolution and by-laws for a JRD, using examples from other communities.
“There are many other JRDs in Ohio that we have reviewed. The background research that city staff previously worked on has gone to council and school board members, and we are currently soliciting feedback and questions for staff to answer,” Greeson said.
The feedback is rolling in from council members, said Anne Brown, Director of Communications for the City of Worthington.
“Once that is completed, information will be forwarded to both elected bodies and requests made to schedule the legislation for discussion, then consideration.
It is expected to occur this fall, but a specific meeting date has not been established,” Brown said in an email.